One of the strangest things about being on a psychiatric ward and gradually recovering is that as the mist begins to disperse you start to understand where you are and what's happening. It's at that time you wonder if you might actually rather continue living in crazy ignorance. I remember the first time I realised that staff were observing other patients and that, therefore, staff were observing me. I felt uncomfortable and agitated by the idea, like I was in a strange surveillance prison where everything I said and did was being charted and recorded. It didn't feel like it was to help me at that time: it felt like it was to catch me out and get me into trouble.
I dreaded to think how long I would have to live here. Whenever there was talk of timescales I would panic and become distressed. My resistance made my experience so much more painful. I knew I needed to surrender and concentrate on getting better for my family and for me. I would work hard every day to confront this illness head on and I would not give in. The not knowing was terrifyingly troubling, but I calmed myself with the thought that all any of us have is now. We can't predict what is coming or what will be. All that we know is it will be. What it will be.
Whenever I felt my speech becoming more pressured, my thoughts racing, or my Tourettes bursting out I would lean into that discomfort. I would know that my illness hated me getting better and would attack me more when it saw that I was.
During my psychosis I had to write down every single person's name I came into contact with. Missing one was not an option. Neither was not remembering who someone was. To make this process easier I gave everyone code names. There was Helen of Troy, Happy Hat, Shadow, Star, Ed the Head and Mirror to name just a few. There is a story behind each person's nickname and why it was chosen for them, but the one that had a massive impact on me was Mirror. She gave me the biggest problem of all and consequently helped me the most.
Having been a self-help junkie for years, I was no stranger to the idea that what we dislike or find problematic in other people is often what we struggle with or fear in ourselves. For some reason, as soon as I met Mirror there was a clash. All of my symptoms got worse when I was in her presence. We had big arguments. Well, I would shout at her and she would tell me it was unacceptable.
She was clear. I was unraveled.
She was calm. I was frenetic.
She was precise. I was a mess.
She pissed me right off. I knew I needed to spend as much time as I could with her. She was vital to my recovery.
I told her that she was the mirror in which I saw myself reflected. What made me angry in her company was the fact that she had the qualities I had loved in my old self but feared I had completely lost. I knew The Thing didn't want me to make progress, so it took my disorder up a level whenever she was near.
No matter how hard it was, or how exhausted I was after our interactions, I knew that I would only see myself again if I kept looking in the Mirror. When there was psycho backlash I knew I was on the right path. I knew that the more I looked at myself, and the harder I gazed into the reflection of who I had become, the weaker The Thing became and the closer I came to recognising my own reflection again.
Love and (hopefully not) 7 years bad luck,
Mutha Courage X