Monday, 27 July 2015

Pills, Poetry & Prose

Today's post is by Rebecca Chamaa, who blogs at 'A journey with you'.



I’m not an expert on schizophrenia based on schooling. I do, however, consider myself an expert based on the experience of schizophrenia, because I have lived with the illness for nearly a quarter of a century.

I wrote a book: Pills, Poetry & Prose: Life with Schizophrenia that is a short book (approximately seventy pages) and contains essays and poetry about my life with a severe mental illness. I have fairly good recall of the times in my life when I have been psychotic and I try to take the reader on that journey with me.

In one essay I talk about the delusion I had of being a healer and during this delusion I baked hundreds of cakes, because I falsely believed that the food I made would heal all of the people who ate it. This essay is a story of a harmless delusion that I had and my neighbor’s response to it. Often times my episodes start out as a somewhat pleasant experience, but they always turn ugly and dangerous eventually.

In another essay in the book, I give my psychosis its own personality by naming it June. I do this to make it clear to the reader how different I am when I am experiencing psychosis as opposed to when I am stable. In this essay June is definitely the enemy even causing me to nearly lose my life to two suicide attempts in the same evening.

The book contains a few poems about my childhood, and about my first marriage. It also contains a few poems about my first stay in a psychiatric hospital and the stigma surrounding a diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia.

I like to think of the book as both tragic and triumphant. I was struck with this illness when life was just starting to unfold for me: I had graduated from college; I was successful in my career as a social worker; I had just started publishing poetry in national journals. My life was good. It would take a number of years, a number of treatments, a number of psychiatrists, and a number of suicide attempts, but my life is meaningful and rewarding now, and I have reclaimed some of what I originally lost. I am thankful to all the people on my journey that helped get me to this point. I am thankful to be alive.

Here is one poem from the book:

A Mass Grave

Where do the voices go

when I die?

Do they go to torture

some other victim of madness?

Does the man on the street

yelling

hear the same voices I do?

Is it all the same spirit,

these disembodied voices

controlling human beings?

I hope that when I die,

they die with me

so there will be less

voices heard

in the minds

of others.

1 comment:

  1. So very true. I've wondered the same thing about the people on the streets: do they hear the same voices that I hear? Thanks for sharing. I take comfort in knowing that others are walking the same path. I get lost in my thinking that this is all some kind of spiritual awakening, that some of us have "burning bush" experiences that aren't classifiable in modern psychiatry, but perhaps that's wishful thinking. Ms till, I value hearing others' experiences, and I thank you for posting about yours.

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