A Recovery Blog

This blog is about my continuing recovery from severe mental illness. I celebrate this recovery by continuing to write, by sharing my music and artwork and by exploring Buddhist ideas and concepts. I claim that the yin/yang symbol is representative of all of us because I have found that even in the midst of acute psychosis there is still sense, method and even a kind of balance. We are more resilient than we think. We can cross beyond the edge of the sane world and return to tell the tale. A deeper kind of balance takes hold when we get honest, when we reach out for help, when we tell our stories.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

In The Midst Of Some Shadows

Lately I've been aware of my illness, well, I'm always aware of it on some level. Because of the voices I know I'm not alone and that maybe noone ever is really alone. In some ways that's good and in other ways that's bad. It's good to feel as if I'm heard, that there's some kind of witness of my life (and all our lives) but bad in that I'm missing that fresh sense of solitude, that sense of sacrosanct privacy. And so I've stopped being playful, stopped dreaming, stopped fantasizing. There's still the residue of an abusive presence coating my life. I'm an older person now and a more cautious person. I live one day at a time so I don't fall into the past or get lost dreaming about the future. But memories and reviewing the past is a very important part of growing up. I miss having no vivid memories, the psychosis seemed to have swallowed them or, at least, buried them deep within me. The voices and a higher power may witness my life but I'm prevented from witnessing my own life. Not totally of course, I can still place things in time but in some ways it's as if I'm sleepwalking while awake. Still afraid.

When some of the voices tell me they love me, I tell them I love them too and it helps, up to a point. But I know my heart is still numb and that what love I feel is incomplete, even for myself and my family. I pray for myself. I pray for my family. I pray for friends and strangers. I pray for the beings who leave their voices in my mind. I think prayer has become necessary to my sense of well-being but I get lost and pray less and have to remind myself to return again. And I do still vaguely remember how the voices tortured me into praying for every single person I could think of as a kind of punishment, taking the joy out of the process yet making it a habit even so. The abuse of power which trains people through fear can create deeply ingrained habits. They did something bad yet still created a good practice for me to follow. Perhaps I'm just confused because they are such a mixture of good and bad forces.

Every now and then the voices still call themselves evil, just as they used to call me evil. I've experienced evil in a relationship and with them but I still don't accept it. I don't believe in it, at least not as something that's incapable of changing. To me, the idea of hell is evil because some people treat it as if it were an unchangeable fact. I may be an idealist but I still believe that hateful people and beings can be changed for the better through other people/being's essential goodness. I also believe that all people and these beings are essentially good, are born innocent. Evil, to me, is a learned phenomena that can be unlearned. Love can conquer hate. And when I say that I don't really mean romantic love but compassionate love. After a while with Brendan I stopped feeling much romantic love but continued to feel compassionate love despite my fear and distaste for his hateful attitudes. Romantic love can come and go but compassion has a broader base. You can feel compassion for anyone, family, lover, friends or strangers or even enemies. And the more you can feel compassion the safer your good soul becomes from negative influences. There's balance and harmony in the practice of compassion.

And that's why I need to put more focus on praying. When I pray, I regain some of the balance and harmony that inevitably starts to slip away when I'm not careful. Prayer is the practice of compassion for oneself and others. Is it enough on its own? Probably not. Good structure and actions are necessary too. I know I am not well because I jump from one thing to another. I mean well but I can't seem to focus on one project for very long. And I'm only vaguely aware of it at the time. I'm not sure if I can change this pattern right now. It's a deeply ingrained pattern stemming from youth. Perhaps I can pray on it and ask for guidance. I haven't been asking for guidance so much as just being grateful for my life and everyone else's lives. But guidance is what I need. I shall also consult the I Ching. Maybe it can give me some perspective on how to change my patterns.

I know that living in the shadow of my illness is just my particular burden to bear for now and that we all, at some point in our lives, bear a burden. I may get lost but I find my way again via various detours. And I do feel grateful for my life, perhaps that's why I find my way again. I'm just very glad that I have some motivation to do things (write, paint, crochet, etc...), more than I did this past winter. I still say motivation is mental/ emotional happiness as long as you hurt noone. So I hold onto what I can do and work on myself in the meantime.
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