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.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Cold Doldrums

I said I was going to write more regularly, but almost 5 days have gone by without a word from me.  Bottom line:  I have a cold that has been hanging on for over 2 weeks and it's been sapping me of my energy; while I wait it out, I've been feeling sorry for myself, that and sleeping a lot.  I have been thinking about posting either a poem or a fiction fragment of a story, but I haven't had the courage.  Being sick has made me more vulnerable.  I think negative thoughts and remain passive.  I'm used to being mentally sick with voices, depression and anxiety, but not physically sick on top of that.  I haven't had a cold in a very long time.  It will run its course and I will start feeling better, but I miss writing/playing/singing songs.  It's an emotional release to sing out, even if my singing and playing aren't particularly good.  That doesn't matter so much as that I keep trying to put my heart and soul into the practice of it.  It's more therapy for me.  So I'm emotionally shut down without it.

There's something I do to myself that I don't understand --  I say "No" to myself, no to reading, no to writing, no to listening to music, no to watching a DVD.  The core behind that "No" is fear, fear of making a wrong choice, fear of more suffering.  I have so many good books, CDs and DVDs, but they remain in piles all around me, mostly unused.  I do read and write but haltingly, not with the abandon I once had before I got involved in an abusive relationship.  That appears to be where this monolithic "NO" stems from, a reaction to having been abused.  Becoming ill with schizophrenia was like having an abuser stuck within my mind.  During the acute stages of the abusive relationship and the acute stage of my schizophrenia, I stopped doing the things I used to love to do.  Either I was obsessed with trying to figure out my abuser or I was so caught in my delusions that the focus was not on me but on them.  Now, though I'm in recovery,  there is still this residual negative reaction that I have to contend with on a daily basis.  Perhaps before my reaction served as a temporary protective balm, but now it serves no good purpose; it just keeps me from being a happier individual.

In part, it is my illness that makes it difficult for me to choose what to do with myself, but it is also myself, something about my personality and this is what makes all this so frustrating.  I've internalized my abuser even though the abuse has long since stopped.  I have become my own puzzle and problem.
Living alone intensifies the problem because I am responsible for all the choices I make, I can't defer to another's choice.  But why am I so afraid of making a wrong choice?  Life is filled with wrong choices, but from the wrong choice you learn to find the right choice.  Nothing is fixed in stone; life is fluid, ongoing.  But I act as if making a wrong choice brands me for life as some kind of failure.  I'm also still afraid of the dark side of life that gets expressed in books, CDs and films.  It's as if I were a little child clinging to the fantasy of happily ever after stories.  When I was acutely ill for a while all I could watch were Disney animated movies.  I was hungry for the fantasy, just as most children are.

I've decided that I want to write stories, but for a story to be interesting there must be conflict.  While I think it is bizarre that we as human animals gravitate towards telling and experiencing stories of conflict, I also realize that it is not just conflict that draws us in; it is resolution of that conflict that we're  interested in.  Life is a big problem, there's a lot of conflict and then you die and this is true for all your loved ones and for the whole human race.  So what we want to know is how do we resolve this problem of life and death?  A lot of people place their faith in heroes and heroines who go on a complex journey, but ultimately triumph over seemingly unsurmountable odds.  We listen to/watch the stories because secretly we want to identify with the heroes and heroines.  So is it back to the fantasy that everyone (except the bad guys) lives happily ever after?  Not in the really good stories, the ones where the hero or heroine has human flaws and where the ending leaves open ended questions and isn't just a pat black and white response.  Grown up stories that acknowledge that life is tough and we don't know what happens after death.

Writing this out makes me feel better, gives me hope that I can start to say "Yes" to things instead of "No", but it's not so easy when I'm lying down on the couch staring at the ceiling.  During those moments I feel stuck inside a self-made prison and too often I give in to that belief and do nothing.  Having this cold just accentuates that tendency.  If all goes well, this cold will end and I will be liberated.  May I make the best use of that liberation and start making more choices, even poor ones.  It's not about getting it right.  There is no such thing as perfection.  It's about doing the best you can with what you've got, and I know I've got a lot.  
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