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.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

From Florida

I've been here with my parents and brother for a little over a week and all's gone smoothly but I'm missing home and my two cats. Here there is cleanliness and order. Here there is communal living. Two things clearly absent from my home life and yet I have become a reclusive creature, used to my own space, my own rhythm. Not that I wouldn't like to live in a clean and ordered house or wouldn't like to see more of my parents, but I also want a measure of independence. I'm capable of living with my parents for a couple of weeks, beyond that I need to have alone time.

For now, I hide behind my MacBook laptop (which I just got a month and a half ago and love). I'm amazed at how much time I spend on the computer and it doesn't seem to bother my family at all. For a little under a week I've had an encyclopedia for the Mac and I've been soaking up information, images, sound. I'm only now starting to appreciate how much I can do though I'm lightyears behind most computer junkies. How the world is changing! I just learned today about podcasts and that they're free and plentiful (though I don't have an ipod but I do have iTunes). I've been an artistic dilettante for most of my life but what I've only just returned to is songwriting and singing. Before I got sick I had been making up my own songs for several years. The Spring and Summer that I first got sick I wrote and recorded a lot of songs, but soon the voices were attacking my songwriting and I stopped. It amazes me to think that that was eight years ago. I decided to return to songwriting after writing to Pam about wanting to dedicate myself to one art instead of spreading myself thin in many arts. She asked me which art form had most deeply affected me and I knew right away that it was music. Then she told me to focus on just that.

Before I came down here I did finish an old song and write a new one but unfortunately I got a bad cold/cough that wouldn't go away and I couldn't sing. I'm only now just getting over it, so I should be in good shape when I return home next week and I will continue with what I've started. The MacBook has a music program called GarageBand where you can create your own songs. I've been studying that for the last couple of days, but I'm very new to all this technology. I have an 8 track cassette recorder I bought eleven years ago but even with that I only know the basics. So I have to get myself in gear and start a daily program of study and practice. I'm glad to have a focus again.

My voices have been very quiet during this trip which is a relief. I remember other visits here where I was literally out of my mind, where I needed to talk to myself to get through the hard times. Now, the voices are more loving but just a month ago I was falling into delusion again. Consulting the I Ching helped me to get out of its grip; it redirected me towards a healthier balance. The anti-psychotic meds have vastly improved the quality of my life despite minor setbacks and I'm very grateful not to be living in the era of mandatory asylum stays with little effective treatment. At least now a days there's hope for if not full recovery then enough of a recovery to live independently. It's not perfect by any means but it's much more humane.


Anonymous said...

>Now, the voices are more loving but just a month ago I was falling into delusion again. Consulting the I Ching helped me to get out of its grip; it redirected me towards a healthier balance. <

This is amazing, how the IC helps you get out of the grip of the voices. My jaw drops when I think about how incredilbe this is, to have an oracle to guide you.

Anonymous said...

I too had loving voices, one I even called Brother Luke, he was so consoling and wise. But eventually I started ignoring him, begging him to go away, because I knew that becoming dependent upon hearing any sort of voices would only draw me more deeply into my illness rather than help me recover and grow out of it. I stopped listening when he came, and I stopped talking about him to the people who wanted to hear what he said. I know he would come back in a minute if I wanted him to, but I don't. I don't want any voices in my head, not even good ones. Because good ones bring along bad ones, in my experience. You can't have one without the other. So watch out for those loving voices and what you decide is worth keeping, Kate. It's all still part of the illness. Your friend and fellow blogger, Pam W 8D

Kate Waters Kiernan said...

Hi hollis,

I didn't bring any I Ching translations with me this trip and I have been missing consulting it daily. It really did help me out last month. It is an amazing tool and presence but still immersing myself in it is new right now. I'm hoping I form a deeper relationship to it in the coming months. There's so much to learn. Patience and gradual progress are important.

Kate Waters Kiernan said...

Hello Pam,

When I was much sicker I named certain voices: Philly, Pudge, Asshole etc... but most of those voices were pretty sick. I don't think I've ever had one voice like Brother Luke who was very good and had a name. Now my good voices are anonymous, subtle and non intrusive. They basically wish me well and sometimes tell me they love me and ease my passing worries. When I'm alone I sometimes engage them in brief conversations. So far, little problem with them.
It's the voices that were hung up on calling me (and themselves) "evil" that are more troublesome and they've been quite quiet, thank goodness. But my attitude has been to be lovingkind to all my voices and this has vastly helped me to cope. But we are all unique, especially schizophrenics, and have to find our paths to recovery. I think you're right to distance yourself from your voices, especially the ones that take on a strong personality (bad and good). Better to aim for balance.