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.
This butterfly will not dream up hurricanes again. I promise.
There are no thoughts. I can no longer move my own thoughts. It is all static. You have watched me snap. I am glassy-eyed as the poisons and pins will be brought.
There was only an idea of freedom before you. This breath of breeze quite throws me. Where will the wind blow from here? A storm starts somewhere. I don’t know – I have been caught for such a long time that I now believe even butterflies die.
Now I am writing for my life.
I go about my day with a great rat in my eye – still. The field of vision is unaffected but the intrusion of reality is there. Understandably, I struggle to sleep through this, and there is the interruption of the rest by voices who want “just to talk”.
Once, in a manic episode, I existed in absolute sleeplessness for five days straight. It felt like a walk through the desert of death.
There is no recorded evidence that human beings can die from extreme sleep deprivation – for such an experiment would be unethical. I read that laboratory rats tend to reach death after approximately 28 days of non-stop wakefulness.
Lack of sleep causes time to slide; the eyes feel dry and gritty; there is a deep confusion between fatigue and hunger; and body temperature regulation goes awry (generally, you are left cold by life). If psychosis can be compared to wide-awake dreaming, it seems quite logical that prolonged sleeplessness and psychosis make natural bedfellows.
If you can sleep, sleep. If you cannot, keep your eyes closed and remember: rats are gifted when it comes to mazes, and wild rats can live for up to 18 months.
There is so much to say. Words can move you in time and space. I wrote this a while ago. It’s ok. I’m ok. Though still I am desperately fighting the urge to take a knife to my right eye, cut this large rat out. It is not a question of vision, it is a question of movement. Now there is wild fear. I am not quite sure what to do yet. But sometimes it is so that the strangely mixed sadness hits at heart-height with unfair force. It’s a wonder that any greenery survives.
Here is a sleepless state. I am not sleeping but there is sickness – and there are stars – everywhere I am. Can you hear me going to my death? I grow old and colder. Nobody is awake. Nobody around is awake.
Each day, I will laugh riotously into the night – I just can’t help myself. I can’t help myself.
You do not stir. How can you sleep, how can you sleep through a scream? You will never feel silent for I will keep asking: is asking to die asking too much?
The slow climb down began a few days ago and already the nausea and night sweats are easing. I withdraw – and find the more I do, the more silent it seems. In terms of nervous pain, I am falling still.
There is a large rat in my right eye. I know that because I saw a picture at a right angle. The eye rolls itself; there is no other reason, and no control.
I have encountered bad reactions before. I am no stranger to myself any more than this headache is. The sheer drop of the panic shocks me through its physical fear. There is nothing I can do about my heart.
It seemed so certain to me that my ancestors inflicted Scottish chest pains on me; and placed an object in my throat so that I struggled to swallow, and felt breathless when lying on my left side.
I have taken all these poisons; still, I am very much alone in the face of it. It doesn’t matter now. My hair is falling out.
Not tomorrow but the next day, I will laugh about this. I’ve been bypassed, jinxed, and held against my will. I’ve tried hypnotics, anti-convulsants, neuroleptics, and cocktails. Yes, I have tried life but I don’t much like the taste of it.
The day after next, I will cry about this. I’ve shocked passers-by, flinched in the face of pain, and moved objects purely by will. I was touched on the back of the head by an angel on Sunday. There have been ticked boxes, optical illusions, and general cross-eyedness. Believe me, I have tried to write myself. One day, my words will make grown men weep.
I am trying to recall what I did the last day. Physically, my health is failing. It’ll be ok; it is just jitteriness, waiting for the axe to fall
It occurs to me in a flash but instantly forgets itself. I have worked myself out of puzzled looks before. In fact, I have it down to a fine art.
Being a conjuror, I can make myself disappear by concentrating on it. I can reappear on the ceiling or repeat myself on this chair. It is a trick of the eye. Don’t blink or you’ll miss me! I’d pull flowers out of the air for you. I wish I had a top hat so then I would be taller. I would show them but I am just a bunny rabbit and a drum roll and a puff of smoke. It all ends badly anyhow.
You’ll miss me more than you know.
I vomited and got pulled backwards through the spirit world – kind of like a breech birth. All they could hear was me coughing and spitting. Someone’s gone and thrown a brick or put a stick in my eye. I stick to what I know. No-one knows of my existence because I got you one down, two across.
Often it happens that my life falls apart. But I believe I breathe; and although the air goes in and air comes out, I can’t help feeling that water vapour damps the spirit world. It’s an artificial element. That’s the thing: who knows what time will bring? Is my thought sound-proofed? I know my days are numbered. There comes a time when you just want some sweeties and some silence.
This is the resistance of the flesh. Death is a threshold. Forcing death’s door is not easy, even by suffocation with a plastic bag, even after a handful of sedatives. I have tried myself. Guilt stains and, my God, I am the traitor who doesn’t come clean. The whole business of suicide is an uneasy one. I wait for the rest which never comes. It is rickety as lithium. I have fluid retention in my ankles. I think I have got off lightly.
I am in the splinters of the mirror I have just shattered. I should not cut myself. But by now it is too late.
They have a go at help. But I am past it. There’s something lost in me. Like hell I’ll ever get it back. Like hell I’ll ever recover myself. I make perfect sense for I am a perfect sphere suspended in time and catching in the light. I caught somewhere, hearing only white noise in the pitch blackness. It is down to impure health.
I need freedom and paper. My day never begins. Or never ends. It is pretty final and it is too late. It’s much too late.
Thank you for the welcome. It is an honour to be invited to write here.
I can’t look. My eye waters. I can make out outlines but that is all. I squint enough to write in the shadow of my own hand. A drop falls. Is it water? Is it blood or water? I don’t know now for I cannot see a thing. Just then, I catch myself in the mirror – I am sure I saw him twice until I put the light out. It is a good hour before I watch myself sleep.
Then it came at me in the night: I sat across from a man who, each time I looked at him, had changed in some way. Now he had a beard, now he wore thick-rimmed glasses, now he had the head of a young girl; then, when his skin turned to bluish-green scales, I swore at him. His apology was disingenuous but then I already knew what he was.
I awaken, I think. This time, a voice from the table says, “Don’t rub your eyes.” I can’t see anyone. I attempt getting up and getting on. I can’t find the front door so I give up on going out. There is a great pain in my head still. I hunt around for something I must be looking for but cannot remember what it is.
I am just sitting when I hear car horns beeping. I cannot work out whether I am now standing in the middle of a busy road being beeped at. I go ask my mother. I am not sure she exists. At lunchtime, I suspect someone is messing with my timeframes.
It is getting harder to think what it is I am meant to be doing. There is a list but it is in my mother-tongue. So I sit gazing out of an upstairs window. It is quite a drop from here. I can hear the rain begin. I haven’t washed in over a week. Yet even so the colours are scarcely there. I want paper and scissors and stone. A giant eye opens in the wall. It has a green iris so I step right through.
Philippa King, writer and artist will be contributing her expressive, personal, and very unique perspective on her experience dealing with one of the most difficult disorders, schizoaffective disorder (bipolar type). Please welcome her and read what she will be writing from time to time. You can also find her artwork on the website. www.bipolarartists.com