I let the rainbow effects play around the electric lights and I loosen my focus. There is a new focus, a sparkling effervescence of being. It has opened up into the illimitable Beyond.
I may seem brash and glittery with energy. I may be living dangerously. In this state, I could do anything. But it is all startlingly clear: I’ve touched the element of life and I am enthralled by it.
Happy hypomania. I remember the days.
What troubles you? The floor I sit cross-legged on swells and rolls like the waves of the sea. This troubles me: I have repeating and intrusive thoughts, seeing my throat being cut with sheet glass over and again. I’m conscious of a dislocation and it’s all in my head.
Is it my sickness you’re experiencing – or is it nothing really?
The sentences do not connect there where the idea has suddenly snapped and fallen away. The chairs downstairs all guffaw at me.
I walked through the underworld to get here; I’m not prepared to turn around now. There are lots and lots of pictures of pain on the walls but not all that many of happiness. Why is that? Don’t look behind you but there’s someone staring our way.
You lose sight of me. Hallucinations here are a distraction. They can laugh; they can dance all they like: my heart is smashed to smithereens – you are gone.
I’ve been near to hell and back because of you but I’ve made it. Look forward to the light of day. Go on. Just don’t look back.
There is a splintering of goal-directed behaviour. My attention divides so that nothing ever sees completion. Reading long blocks of text is slightly beyond me. Sometimes I will forget how to carry things out and I throw things in exasperation.
Sometimes I forget I’m lucky.
As I breathe, I am aware of time passing. It would be easy to imagine happily ever after. But I lie there.
I asked for a skull and got the moon instead. I disappear and return to view; leaving whole words undone because there is a hole in my head the shape of the moon. I am full of rage at what I can no longer understand to do. I tear up everything I try.
I will forget the moon and smile.
I am aware of times past. I say I love life. But I lie there. All the money in the world cannot buy you time.
I could have held that head in my one hand. Is everything come to nothing? I asked for a skull. My eyes lit up with a sudden thought. It’s gone out now. Death was not where I looked that time; it still gives me grief.
The moon will forget me and smile.
Something tells me something’s wrong. I threw my voice at a wall with all my strength and something crumpled in me. A double dose of sleeping medicine is not enough. What’s wrong? I am.
The night before last, I didn’t sleep either. But the television downstairs played me, forcing me to stand up and sit down repeatedly, time after time for the whole night. It was because it was down a level and it was in everyday English. I tried to maintain serenity.
Today I start again. I cannot stop. I cannot stop feeling hopeful.
It’s no good. I’ve always said we don’t know the half of it. I will never know what I feel now. I can’t think whether to laugh with annoyance or relief. Is it what we make of life – or what it makes of us?
Though the sky is a deep bluish-black, the sun has caught the raindrops. A rainbow is lightly painted in watercolours up above. I’ve traced the whole spectrum in the past two days. I don’t know what to make of bipolarity, electrics, or undying love. If I appear thoughtless, I’m just dazzled.
I have been sleeping.
Now my spoken words make clouds which obscure the sliver of the moon. There are no lights and I know you cannot reach me. Even so, I tell you that no matter how hard I try, I cannot get my name to rhyme with life. I am sick of depression and marzipan – they both smother everything at this time. Really we are powerless and stuck here. It is cold and my thoughts freeze still.
P.S. I’m slowly trying to get back into the rhythm of writing. Truly stuck in heavy snow here. But the power did come back on this afternoon.
This picture is hooked on sugar and caffeine. It will down espressos like there is no tomorrow. It will end in delirium, mania, trouble and an irregular pulse. They took away my freedom and took me away to a ‘place of safety’. I am distrustful and heartbroken hiding in the backdrop.
A Portrait of a Lady
It is raining in that room where the lady sits though there is not a drop of rain outdoors. I feel the drizzle-dampness on my skin. Be charming and disarming. What are you running from? I tug on the tablecloth and instead of it being a magician’s trick, it drags all the plates, knives and forks towards me in a collision as I listen to a piano prelude in C sharp minor.
I copy that. I take a swipe at reality, missing by miles. It cannot be helped that my vision of self holds sway over the positions of the far-flung stars but has a slim grasp of the threads of conversational cohesion. Did your heart sink at that? I am whole in mind. However, without the support I have, I must acknowledge I would be dead and homeless, shouting at the passing traffic. You get the picture. I was born to write; all my soul is in it.
I don’t know it but this is the last chance bought for me. The scars have no pain anymore. Dream up a pharmaceutical fix for I am shattered and disquieted. The restless red depicts the authorities stealing the ‘name I call myself’ whilst I briefly relax my gritty, sore eyes. There stands a doorway at death. I remember because all the saints are waiting by. No-one knows what time it is. I don’t know myself. The mania has scorched a hole in my everyday life so that I can see straight into the realm of gross impairment. These are the ranks of angels dressed as ordinary people in my life. An arrow points through my tiredness saying, “Her! Here!” I am in denial of facts but I will break down when the clock strikes an hour. The school I first knew I was alive in was called after St John the Evangelist. What has life taught us? Everything will happen in good time. But the colour, the purity of the colour alone evokes a sense of pity. It seems to say, “Is it finished?” I have never cried so bitterly before as in volatile mania. I don’t know the words but remember me when you get there.
There is no joy. Instead there is a concentrated black-red rectangle. It is familiar for it is the colour you know in yourself when you close your eyes in the light. The saints wear dinner-plate haloes at the last meal. Smile – do that to remember me by. I exist and then I exit. A subtle gradient of the black-red leads further into depression: it is all-consuming and as bleak as the sight of the stripped table on the night of Good Friday. The paintwork is evidence of psychomotor retardation when time peers back. I experience anhedonia. Is it that we’re dying? The light opens onto black-red.
At the third section, we face a flat surface of blood red. I appear quite calm and it is no illusion. This is my new life from ashes and sackcloth. I remember the last time I read in the papers of a sacred statue weeping tears of blood red. Woman, why are you crying? It made money. Then an image of a holy figure formed in a shadow under a streetlight somewhere. It was me. I thought I was an unrecognised prophet once. But there is only interest in profits here. All ideas come out blood-hot. They have taken my blood. There were children throwing stones at the windows of the psychiatric hospital I was held in. People in glass houses should not throw stones because they could take an eye out. You’ve had your way; now it is mine. It is blood red and is known as a leap of faith. The neuronal pathway stretches right from here to home. Is this the closest thing we’ll know to heaven or the closest thing to hell?
Hello. I took another breath.
What I write on paper presses through to the next world. There is a pressure in my skull for you are thinking inside my head. If you cannot see the wood for the trees, will you cut them all down? I get distracted and the eye rolls away. I read and I don’t understand. This medication can cause intermittent divergent strabismus, I know. The vision is gone now but I see my psychiatrist hopefully next week.
An insistent voice asks continuously for a large whiskey and a cigarette. I don’t drink whiskey and I don’t smoke. So he keeps asking because his “drugs of choice are: whiskey, nicotine and wholegrain foods”. Exactly.
Then it happens that my own thoughts are so loud again that you must hear them. My thoughts now come across appallingly. You reap as you sow. I have it coming.
I really hurt myself.
I hate my own heart for it forces me on.
You watch me in despair but all I can do is point to the pain in my psyche. Keep talking to me. I have reached the point where the pain is excruciating and it exceeds everything else.
I hesitate. I don’t want to hurt you now that you have a little picture of me.
But I really hurt myself. There is nothing left except: “I am so, so sorry.”
P.S. I am being held here (in life) against my wishes. But I am being well looked after. I will be ok.
I thought God rested on the seventh day and had a dream of me. Really, I was choking on my life and didn’t stand a chance.
I became the eye that couldn’t focus and I didn’t blink. Either I couldn’t sleep or I couldn’t wake up. Everything started around the age of seven. Slowly, I dropped out of life – unable to cope with the smallest problem, unable to settle down to activities or conversations with any purpose.
Once upon a time, my life was projected upside down on my retina. This is my interpretation of it for my mind feels like a set of fractured mirrors. I turn my back on the world. Feelings have been forced on me: something shoves me in the back when I am sitting, and makes me say certain things beyond my control. All is seen in the light of my own internal reflections. Here is a snapshot I took in the mirror just now:
I have just shot myself by accident. I appear awkward as I don’t like to remember my direct look. Any face in a fairground mirror is mine. Are you a fleck of gold? In time, I’ll tell if the light comes back at me. These are the fragments of a face; I have twenty eyes. Those are my hands. See what makes me tick. I start a laugh. From my view, everything is back to front and the long way round. We look into the glass only to see ourselves in it. The illusion is from our point of perspective. So I snap my direct glare again twice.
This is where I live. On the door is an old palindromic phrase, spelling the same backwards as it does forwards: ‘never odd or even’. I cannot work myself out even in front of a mirror. How to put on a coat is a riddle. I know I am in a photograph somewhere else in which my shadow is caught between me and another room. Whenever I look away, I lose myself. Don’t take your eye off me – I might not exist. By the way, that clock is ticking backwards.
I turn again to face the circle of the mirror but instead, there is a disc of solid black where my soul should be. Yet it is the multicoloured halo of my thought which astounds me. My name has false depth: I cannot distinguish its right from left. The time on the third stroke will be eleven fifty one and eight seconds. Pip pip pip.
Six days pass by the mirror. I pass the time in an odd grimace. Time goes right through my head like a sharp sound. I must be living upside down like in the curve of a spoon – as I can see through your eye but not through my own.
Where am I exactly? In reflection in your pupil. Give me time to take it in. Who am I? I am a shock of the brain; I live within your head. If I were you, I’d be whimpering by now. But really you are not me. You say something and I watch my face dropping and smearing. It smells of decomposition. I attempt to know my face by heart but in the end, I will see no-one other than you.
I have no idea.
There is nothing I can do about thought-theft now. I’ve been cut up. But what I write on paper presses through to the world beyond. If I stare at a point hard enough, I can see into infinity. My eye is a black hole in space; you’ll see me in the middle distance. That cuts both ways. So, I am well aware of bitter sadness – it is life’s bread and butter.
What are dreams made of, these flickers through the mind’s eye? Neurotransmitters.
For me, psychosis, especially the florid type, has no memory of itself. When I wake, the dream is gone. But sometimes I come across nonsensical notes to myself, as if the mind has made attempts to reach home whilst mapping its way through the strange landscape:
There is the small matter of the evaporation of my soul. The sole reason for that is it’s losing mass in room temperature. It’s an experimental mental environment. The said mass is without music. Maybe it lacks verve and spirit. Amen.
But there’s been a flip back and a back flip about a day ago into a bout of manic panic again. It’s a slip and a blip and a trip switch. Switch places with me and see. Take a trip. It’s a jaunt. Wear your hat at a jaunty angle. Rat-a-tat-tat. Flout the rules and flaunt it. Entertain angels unknowingly. Know the limits but don’t let them hold you back. No. Beware of cheap chocolates and cuckoo clocks going ‘cheep’. Make a giant mental leap. I can’t sleep. Pick a lock, any lock; and I’ll learn how to pick it. Choose a password. Do not pass Go. Play with the laws of motion. There’s a notion of endlessness and an ocean of forever. Play with fire and scorch my shirt sleeves. Catch my eye, then throw me a look of pure joy. Attention. There is a tension in my mind. Stay out of trouble. The trouble is I can’t. My mind’s ahead of me. Mind your head. Meet me halfway. But I don’t eat meat anymore. Take your time. If you don’t have time, buy it. By the by, don’t mess around. That’s what I’m doing. I am reckless with an infectious laugh. Life’s a riot. I can be quiet. I’ll start a peaceful revolution and come round full circle. Never underestimate the force of language. Words used wisely can be more powerful than a gun. Otherwise, you are back to square one. Square the circle. It’s peace squared, peace times two, peace to the power of ten, power through peace, peace to the people. Cut it up and everyone can have a piece. Circle all the above. Recycle all you can. Break an egg. Make a cake. Take a risky kiss. I keep going back to where I got ill. One step forwards, two steps back; take away six and add half a dozen. That could be the beginnings of a very strange dance, no? Create pandemonium and remember the devil’s in the detail. I’m a fiend and a speed-freak. But as long as they don’t call the cops, eh. Tell me a story. Live with style and die with glory. One day, people will not kill butterflies. That just flies in the face of reason. But I must face it: I am a butcher and it is hard to help what you are born to be.
Schizoaffective disorder bipolar type, rapid cycling pattern, ICD- 10 F25. I know its name, and it knows mine.
There was snap-mania. It lasted just two days. That was more than enough. For me, mania means disintegration of self and sense. I have come to fear the full-blown mind. It used to be euphoria; now it is only confusion and terror. I am a scream. I have been badly burnt.
I thought I knew my own mind once. I lose words half-way through saying them. I couldn’t think if I had been made to swallow a tapeworm just then. Horror could make me cry. Someone shouts at me from a chair across the room. Nothing can quell the panic. But I am King and my head hurts, so then I start to bang it repeatedly against the wall. At the same time, I am quite detached, as if at the far end of the corridor from myself. Trying to work out how to get through a shut door panics me; everything panics me.
I have been scratching on everyone’s nerves, including my own, for too long. I would kill myself if I could remember something. Is that how you spell ‘something’? I no longer know – for I cannot recall what I was talking about. All I can tell you is that I am in so much pain – and I am sick with it. You have no idea what I am saying anymore. But you, you are compos mentis, so I’ll be ok. You bring me more medicine. I take it quietly. I must take it quietly so as not to frighten you again. I lie down and, when you are gone, I cry with horror. Checkmate.
Just be careful of the machinery of the mind. It is merciless and it has the strength to drag you to your death.
The spirit of Isaac Newton walked through me twice.
On the seventh day, God rested and had a dream of me. My sleep is broken and my beloved cat died on the day before yesterday. I pace back and forth but I can’t get back in time. It is strange dealing with life after you have dealt with death. I look around for you but you’ve gone on ahead. Have you any aspirin? This book of poems has an untouchable headache. If I could cry, I’d know the weight of my cowardice in milligrams, and I’d know better than to call out for you now. I will not ask for another word – but I will ask for aspirin.
For now, I think I have just lost my footing.
And you cried.
This morning, I woke up dry-eyed again. For crying out loud, can’t I show some emotion for once? My mother weeps for me. I am speechless.
I could not care less what you say or do. You shake me; you could shout. Is there any point? I have no feelings either way. It is the rising water of apathy and numbness. I am caught out in the cold. I do nothing; I cannot feel myself think. So what, who cares. I am a number puzzle but I do not count – I have nothing to add as my life is taken away.
Beings removed my heart yesterday and replaced it with a simulation. The electrical impulses are used to alter my actions in history. They move me every so often. But yesterday is but yesterday. This morning, I woke up dry-eyed again.
The ‘negative symptoms’ of schizophrenic-spectrum disorders are when characteristics which should be present are not. They include: apathy (lack of interest in life), affective flattening (a blank facial expression and an inability to express emotion), anergia (low energy), avolition (low motivation), anhedonia (loss of pleasure even in activities previously enjoyed), alogia (poverty of speech, often due to poverty of thought), and social withdrawal/isolation.