My book begins with my second hospitalization. This was one of the worst periods of my life, because my second hospitalization - after my first in 2010 - confirmed my condition is permanent. My diagnosis is now Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder with Psychotic Features. Interestingly, Lady Gaga just revealed in an interview she has experienced both PTSD and psychosis. I think this combination is less unusual than I was first led to believe. So, feel free to reflect and respond on this piece of my work. I also performed this chapter of my book at a Moth-inspired Storytelling event that is also posted on my Blog.
We Are Gathered Here Today
To Get Through This Thing
Called Life -
Prince - "Let's Go Crazy."
I am not there, I am here. Again. I am still trying to figure out how. The second time - it is much worse than the first.
There. Now if I were There - That's Richard and I together. That's what we do. That's how we met. We lived under the Santa Cruz Mountains, where you follow Route 17 upwards. Last week, we had gone down to Main Street in Los Gatos, walked in the park, ate at the empanada lunch place, and stopped by the knitting store where I had bought the rainbow baby sweater project. Our latest destination is The Happy Dragon, a second-hand store, where recent vacationers from Hawaii dump the shirts they will never wear again. Which is just fine by Richard, who picks up each designer label.
“Look at this one, three dollars - that's a $60 dollar shirt” he says victoriously. It's been almost ten years since we’ve been a couple, and there’s a 25 year age difference between us. Despite his Midwest roots, Richard fits right in here in the in Silicon Valley, with his fluffy white hair that every woman in a grocery store wants to run their fingers through. As does his love for tropical shirts. And unlike wintery New England where I am from, here my monarch butterfly tattoo freely flutters year-round on the back of my right shoulder as we happily wander the streets. We are hippies living among millionaires.
But here isn't there. This is just a box, with white walls and grey paneled ceiling. No mountain, not even a picture, and I don’t have my rainbow sweater knitting. An odor of rubber hangs in the room, not the smell of a pencil eraser, but like a dark, sweaty commuter train at 5pm.
It’s the net that has captured me. White, grey, white, grey, grey, white.
Before, when I was in graduate school a couple of years ago, they had told me my experience was a one-time thing, a bad trip. As I hugged a friendly pillow in my therapist Dr. Minsky’s office, he explained, "Getting past this, it's doable." He had always worn a beret, and smiled infectiously from behind his graying beard.
"Why did it happen to me?" This question wrapped up my mind.
He shrugged. "It happens to a lot of PhD students."
I think to myself. Define a lot...
This morning, I had tried to prove everything was fine. Even though Richard had asked me to call in sick when I got up - it seemed like a normal day. I was a social worker at a college counseling center, so a day off sounded fine. I still headed for Starbucks, my first everyday destination.
But my husband yelled after me. "Where are you going?"
I didn't understand- what's the big deal. It's the same place I go every day, the same Grande Cafe Mocha, and I had brought my diamond and pink journal, so I could continue to record the signs. It had silver eyes, kaleidoscopic. The notebooks are one of the identifying features of people who have the Gift.
When I got back, Daniel, our priest was there. This made perfect sense to me. I had written a message in my journal asking Daniel to come. We had met with Daniel the day before because Richard was having problems at work, and I had declared that I had unusual powers. He hadn't reacted, except to recommend a consultant to Richard, and Julian of Norwich to me. But since I had asked him to come to our apartment through writing it in my journal, I wasn't surprised he was here. It was because of me, right?
So they were talking and I began deciphering the formulas. I had wanted to demonstrate the Gift to Daniel, to show him I knew. I thought, with his background, that he would understand. I wanted to impress him. So it was rude that he took the journal from me without asking, looked at it, and then put it back in my lap. But maybe he saw what he had expected to see?
Of course I had agreed to Daniel and Richard’s plan that I see my psychiatrist Dr. Dean, as I believed she could certify my sanity. Hadn’t she recently complimented my progress without the medications? They decided to try to take me off of them, because everyone believed what had happened a couple of years ago was a fluke, a one-time thing. After being vetted by Dr. Dean, Daniel would accept me as an apprentice and help me to develop the Gift.
I had even volunteered to drive to her Psychiatry Office.
But, here was the problem - when we got there, Dr. Dean wasn't there. She was on vacation. We were diverted to a women I didn't know.
That’s where things fell apart. She didn’t know me, so she didn’t understand.