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, December 12, 2008

A Meeting, The First Break In The Ice

Almost a week of silence here. I'm sorry everyone. I've just been feeling withdrawn, so I've been sleeping a lot.

I did go and visit with my brother's friend Jude. I had lent her some tapes of me singing my songs and went to pick them up. I had heard a few days earlier from my brother that she had been "impressed" with some of my songs. I was happy that she liked them, but I was nervous about going to visit with her. The tapes were from over ten years ago and I hadn't listened to them in a while, so I wasn't exactly sure what she had been listening to. So I listened to a couple of songs on my 8 track to get a feel for it. I realized that I was a different person a decade ago, just entering into psychosis and that Jude might be responding to my former self rather than to my present self.

And I wondered if I was a better person now or then. Then I had left my abusive partner and started writing songs as a form of therapy. Then I had thought that I was getting a second chance at being happy. I took classes and went back to school but I made some of my best music just as I was becoming psychotic. Despite the illness that was growing in me, I appeared strong and confident. The recordings don't sound crazy. But I was headed for a fall and when the fall came I couldn't play anymore. I was too wounded.

That wounded state has lasted till now, though I am many times better than I was ten years ago. And it was that wounded self that knocked on Jude's door and then sat down at her dining room table with a cup of coffee. Jude told me how much she enjoyed my music, especially one tape in particular, the tape I had sent to the rock star 10 and 1/2 years ago. I asked if I could hear her music because Jude has done some of her own songwriting. She gave me a tape to take home and listen to because she didn't want to play it for me. She said my music was rock and roll whereas her music was folk and blues and she then sort of put her music down which I didn't like. We continued to talk with awkward moments interspersed here and there.

I was open with her about my mental illness because I wanted to be and she shared some of her personal experience with suicidal depression, how taking Prozac changed her life for the better. I told her that I had responded well to the medications also. I briefly mentioned how I wanted to start a mental health support group, but was too shy to approach the minister who might be able to help me to do it. She thought it was a good idea and said she bet a lot of people would show up. It felt good just to talk to her about it.

When I got home I listened to the tape she had given me. The music was good, much more carefully constructed than my songs and a lot sweeter too. I've listened to her tape about five or six times because I want to give her some good feedback. Her music is also from a while ago and in the interim her voice has changed and gotten deeper, so she doesn't sing as much as she used to. I could identify with that also. The difference is that Jude has learned to be technically savvy and she has gone so far as to perform which I have never done.

After I listened to Jude's music, I then listened to mine. I wished that we had talked more deeply about our music, but this was the first time I had visited her and she would be leaving for Florida for the winter in a few days. She did give me her email address, so I will keep in touch with her, but I am already looking forward to her return in the spring. She said when she got back that we could get drunk together and sing and play to break the ice.

Meanwhile, I'm here with my acoustic and electric guitars that I can barely play and a voice that needs a lot of singing practice. I have been writing bits and pieces of songs, but I don't know if I can ever get the strength back to sing and play the way I used to. I can only set my mind to practice this winter and see what happens. I told Jude that there was some crossover between music and psychosis for me which is why I can't just jump into it. I have to be cautious and pay attention to any warning signs. Sometimes I can sing okay, but other times it's a fight to sing because the voices interfere. I just can't seem to let go of this dream of being a singer/songwriter, but I have to adjust to the fact that I have changed.
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