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, November 2, 2007

Loner Thoughts

I’ve decided to try something new. I’m going to try to write in this blog once a day, long or short, for the next couple of weeks. I find that it improves my mood to write to you. I guess I already knew that writing is therapeutic, especially writing in a blog but as with most lessons, I need reminding and review.

On my way to my brother’s house I was pulled over by a policeman. I gave him my license and registration and when he asked if I knew why I was being pulled over I said no. Turns out my rear brake lights are almost all not working. He gave me a provisional ticket: if I get the problem fixed by Monday evening and go to the police station to prove it, the ticket won’t be valid after that. I’ve made an appointment to bring the car in to the last place I went on Monday morning.

I was unnerved by it nonetheless and began to worry--should I drive to the next town with my brother so that we can have lunch and go to the library? Would it be safe if people couldn’t see my brake lights come on when I braked? Would I be pulled over again? And even--would the car break down on the way there or back? I decided to go anyway. I decided I needed to get some books on coping with anxiety because that was what I was experiencing right at that moment. When we got to the next town I had my brother check out the rear brake lights. I wanted to know if all the brake lights came on when I turned my lights on (which I hadn’t done before), he said they did. That reassured me that people would be able to see my brake lights on the way home.

During lunch Rob talked about his friends in town and the bar scene on Halloween. I mostly listened. I asked after the young woman who was hearing voices. Someone had her brought to the psych unit of a local hospital one night a month ago because she was getting out of control, but she soon returned to town and the bars and her friends. Rob said she still wasn’t doing so well. It remains unclear what her diagnosis is and whether she’s taking the medication she was given. And I haven’t started the message board for the town yet. I’ve been avoiding it because I’m not sure how to set it up and that uncertainty just got swallowed up into Fall depression. And sometime during this depressed avoidance time I learned from my brother that a teacher at one of the colleges committed suicide by jumping off Niagra Falls. My only contact with town and the schools is through Rob and it’s becoming clearer that a community message board might help. It might have helped that man. I’ve got to start work on it tomorrow.

At the library I went looking for books on coping with anxiety and building self-esteem. There were quite a few so I picked up three on fear and two on self-esteem (one of which is a book by Gloria Steinem called Revolution From Within). I also found by chance two interesting looking books: Darkness Visible - A Memoir Of Madness by William Styron who is a major novelist in his own right and Party Of One - The Loners’ Manifesto by Anneli Rufus. It was Party Of One that I started reading, not ready to face the anxiety or self-esteem books yet. I’ve read the introduction and already I am identifying with the author who is a confirmed loner. She’s making me think and laugh too. What’s she’s making think is maybe it’s okay that I’m a loner. I’ve leaned in that direction since I was very young. I mean I had friends but only a few and then I had a boyfriend and no friends with Saul and then the same with Brendan. Then I was alone and except for having a young mother live with me for a short while I’ve been alone since I left Brendan twelve years ago. There was a time when I thought I would be with someone but then romantic delusions set in and I became psychotic. And now, I want to be alone. For now anyway. I’m an introvert, not anti-social just mainly non social and this book proves to me that there are others like me.

But hopefully most of them do not suffer from mental illness. I think my schizophrenia gets in the way of me being a healthy and well adjusted loner. I think for my mental health I need a certain amount of contact with others. But maybe not that much. Right now the only people I interact with are Rob, my therapist and the members of the Al-Anon group. It would be nice to have one local friend other than my brother. It would also be nice to have a mental health support group in town and meet a potential friend. But I do naturally pull away from it. I’m not exactly lonely. When I get involved in something, reading, writing, painting, songwriting, etc... I feel nearly happy. If I’m motivated I can spend hours and hours alone and I’m okay. Now that I think of it, some of my happiest and most productive times have been when I’ve been alone. What’s hard for me to understand is that a lot of people are the opposite, that they don’t want to be alone and are more productive in groups than on their own. They have spouses and children and friends and coworkers and that’s what is normal for them. I have to resist feeling like I’m less of a person for not having people in my life.

Ever since I was little I wanted to be some kind of creative artist. If I could have my ideal life I would earn a living wage from my art and I would find someone to be my best friend and lover. I’d have a clean, organized home and cats and plants and still spend chunks of time alone working and studying. I would stay close to my family and be trustworthy and responsible. I would be grateful and happy and dedicated.

Okay, that’s it for tonight, back to the books...

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