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, November 1, 2007

The Day After Halloween

Talked to/with my therapist today for the first time in three weeks. Told her I was struggling with depression and low self-esteem; I could feel it as I talked to her. I expressed myself awkwardly, there were a couple of pregnant pauses and I felt darker than I usually am with her. She was practical and supportive and talked me through some things showing me where my fears were exaggerated. I told her about my discomfort at discovering at the last Al-Anon meeting that the group was made up of conservative Republicans. There were a few jabs at “liberals” and I thought, “I’m a liberal.” So I felt defensive which is probably why I kept my mouth shut. The group is really not supposed to push any particular religious or political views so this was unusual and I could understand why that rule was included. The group is supposed to be all inclusive rather than exclusive. It’s supposed to be a safe place where everyone can talk and resolve issues regardless of their religious or political background. The group was laughing at liberal Democrats, they just didn’t know that that meant they were laughing at me in a way. I felt a little annoyed and a little ashamed at the same time. There is one woman in the group who I’ve been trying to become friends with out of the group. She is a strong Bush/Cheney supporter and despises the idea of Hillary Clinton becoming president. I just pushed that aside. But at this meeting I felt self conscious and somewhat dishonest. I went to the soccer game instead of the meeting this week and I haven’t contacted this woman, Beth. My therapist suggested that I should be honest with her. And I think she’s right. I avoid and repress and that makes me sicker. It also made me think that my own prejudice was getting in the way of a potential friendship. Why couldn’t I agree to disagree? Maybe I can but I have to get past my own bias’ and insecurities. I think the truth is that Beth and I are a product of where we grew up and what our parents believed. I grew up in New York City, a stronghold of Democrats and Beth grew up here in Western New York, a stronghold of Republicans. But regardless of this, I like Beth and I always have. Why should that change because I disagree with her politics?

I talked to my therapist also about how I’ve felt more fearful this year than I can remember being. I’m afraid of accidents and disease and general misfortune. I have a near phobia about making telephone calls to anyone other than my family. I am afraid to drive my car, especially at night. J. told me that becoming more fearful of dying and death is a part of getting older. My response to that was “Well, that sucks!” And it does. Especially since the schizophrenia takes that fear and exaggerates it, holds onto it, goes over it. So I’ve become morbid. I’m still afraid that the voices want to harm me. I don’t know what happens at death but they have been able to put me in hell on earth, what could they do with my soul? Worse, the thought that I deserve to go to hell with them. I resist the concept of hell because it is completely hopeless and I believe in hope and healing but still there is that fear that I could be wrong. I have to resist and hold onto the positive, glass half full philosophy. I have to live in the present and value what life I have and try to use my time well. Tomorrow I will go to the library and look for books on building self-esteem and fighting fear. I have to accept the things I cannot change (my mortality and the mortality of those I love) and change the things I can, my own attitude and actions. Looking for books and reading them is a small action and yet just the thought of taking positive action lifts my spirits.

It is ironic that I am listening to Vin Scelsa’s “Idiot’s Delight” replay of his radio show (Sirius Disorder), his Halloween show. He started out with Jim Morrison singing “This is the end...” And then went to the soundtrack of Psycho. Seductive death to cold and calculated violence, insanity in either case. Halloween and humans playing with their fear, acting out and having fun. But I didn’t act out with them. I didn’t dress up or go watch people who dressed up and there were no children coming to my door for candy. Instead I spent a quiet night writing and watching TV. One of the good things about Halloween is that it’s a holiday where people get the chance to face their fears and desires in an innocuous way. It’s also a public acknowledgment that we all do have fears, that we’re in this life together. That’s something I lose sight of, that I’m not alone in having fears.

Fear is hardwired into our bodies to make us very cautious in times of danger. It’s a survival mechanism. Sometimes it serves us very well. We need some fear and it’s got to be available at a moment’s notice. But we can also create fear in times of safety and perpetuate it with over active imaginations. Why create fear? Even before I got really sick I would imagine worst case scenarios. I thought if I imagined it that it wouldn’t happen. Magical thinking. It’s also a way of preparing for bad things. We all know that bad things happen to people, it’s in the news everyday and yes, I think we do need to prepare for the possibility without becoming obsessive about it. I don’t like fear but I wouldn’t want to be careless with my life and other people’s lives because I wouldn’t slow down driving in a snow storm. But I don’t want to live in fear either.

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