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.

Friday, September 3, 2010

A Response To Isolation

I am having trouble staying in touch with new and old friends. One of them called me up and left an endearing message, another wrote me a great long email and others I just want to interact with again because they, too, are sensitive, creative and interesting people. Instead I choose to remain isolated. I do write my minimum of 1,000 words a day and that does takes precedence over writing to my friends, but I also think I use it as an excuse to stay pulled into myself. Is this strange social detachment, which I have gone in and partially out of for years, even before I became acutely ill with psychosis, the natural outcome of suffering from a "brain disease"? Is it not a choice, but my biological/spiritual fate? Will it only become a more pronounced way of life for me as I age? Except for contact with my brother, which I truly enjoy, and occasionally with my sometime friend Richard, I am a recluse, hermit and loner, but up till now I have been sociable online, in my blog and with online friends or on message boards. I used to spend five hours or more at the computer communicating with others, valuing their lives and contributing my thoughts and good wishes. Now I use the computer for word processing and research more and more and for communicating with others less and less.

The question--is it a stubborn will or is it a biologically supported fate, is an unnerving one. If I am being stubborn, I find that rather perverse and if it is biological, I find that scary. Perhaps it is a temporary dip into depression, which I have been going in and out of for years. I hope that's the explanation, but I really don't know.

And yet, I write. I'm writing here like a scientist at the the North Pole with a desire to share my discoveries and with a need to affirm my value as a solitary human being. Perhaps I'm calling out for help or maybe to leave a small mark that communicates, yes, I was here at such and such a time and place, like those ancient hand prints on cave walls. That a handful of people read my blog (sparse though it has been lately) is another reason I am motivated to write and post what I write. I want to appeal to your value as a solitary human being because I do believe that we are the only ones living our lives. No matter how close we get to other people we all return to a solitary space within ourselves. And in that space, we take the time to reflect on our days and nights. If we're fortunate, we learn something and pass it on to someone else.

I still have this urge to pass on something, to join the human circle or why write at all? I'm fostering this activity which is my writing process, so that I don't get sucked up into a void. I read for the same reason. I get to know other writers through what they write. I learn from them; it eases my solitary confinement and then I get inspired to write my version of a corner of my life. I want to stop blaming myself for being odd, as if my oddness were a bizarre willful choice. It's just possible that suffering from schizophrenia is my lot in life, a lot I can't change, the way a zebra can't change its stripes. I am not just my illness, but still my illness does set up some of my limitations and thereby defines me. I know there are those that disagree, who say "my illness does not define me," but I haven't found that to be the case. The illness is a handicap that I can live with, which doesn't mean I can't aspire and work to excel in whatever capacity is available to me. I have a need to be pragmatic more than I have a need to be delusional and that is an accomplishment aided by psychiatric drugs, therapy and my own dogged persistence of living day by day and night by night.

Something I do want to say to those of you who are my online friends, I appreciate you, your life and struggles, though I may not be able to tell you this as often as I'd like. You all give me hope with your intelligent creativity and general kindness that humans are not meant to be a lost species that winds up destroying itself. You reinforce for me the idea that we are all basically good (Buddha Nature). And so I want to thank you for reading what I write and for all the times that you have responded with words of wisdom and support.


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