Wednesday, February 14, 2007

One pill makes you larger...

But I take the ones that make you small. Smaller in your head, that is.

I remember the day when I realised that psychiatrists are called "shrinks" because their job is to shrink your thoughts back into a reasonable approximation of normalcy. And I thought at the time that was a bad thing. Well, 20-odd years and several nervous breakdowns later, I don't agree with my younger self.

The thing is, I thought I couldn't be myself, have my same point of view, without the pain. I thought the pain was integral to the experience. And maybe, just maybe, I wouldn't have formed some of the thoughts I have, or formed them so early, without hurting. I can never know that, though.

So I believed you couldn't have passion without pain. And I resisted a lot of medication therapy because of that, for a great many years. Then I got tired. And I thought, I can't live like this anymore. And I went to see the headshrinker. Maybe it's a good thing I resisted medication for so long, because medication is a LOT better and a LOT more effective than it used to be. Still, I have to take a lot of pills. I have the little yellow pill, and the tiny pale lavender pill (it's almost white, but I think it's lavender anyway), four of the orange tablets and two of the orange capsules and one big brown tablet (but that's a vitamin so maybe it doesn't count) every day. Just to get me close to what other people think of as normal.

I think about this every day when I take these pills. I think about what that means about me. Something? Nothing? Is the distinction between neurotic and psychotic really meaningless? Or does it prove a point that after years and years of being told I was making stuff up and I could stop if I wanted, after years and years of practicing all the therapeutic techniques in the world--think positive, don't take things personally, be here now, and others too many to name--the bad voices still didn't go away. I could erect a wall against them, but I felt them pounding at it every minute.

the pounding is still there, but it's softer now. And I'm grateful for that.

And I've found that my thoughts haven't changed. My point of view hasn't changed. I am still the same person, just a saner version. I can go downtown and check the mail without thinking everyone is talking about me and pointing at me. I can carry on a conversation without getting distracted by stray thoughts or stuff going on around me. I can go to a party. I can take pride in my appearance. These are things I could not do before. I could pretend to do them, and I got so good at pretending that you'd never know I had a problem. But when the pretense broke down...

I think this saner me is okay, but it's still weird to think of "saner" as a word that I need to apply to myself. When you think the weird stuff is normal--that's just your life and you have to adjust somehow--it's funny when you pop back into a less weird reality. And have perspective on just how weird it was. I don't know if I'll ever get used to that part.

Well, it's time for my morning meds...

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Little Earthquakes

I was listening to this Tori Amos album the other day. It's probably my favourite of her albums, but I couldn't listen to it for a couple years because some of the songs would make me cry so hard I would throw up. As my therapist would say, they "brought up stuff." Heh.

I always think Tori Amos must have really experienced lots of the more unpleasant things she writes her songs about--rape, abusive relationships--because I don't see how she could give such a succinct and poignant picture of them otherwise. You just can't make up the terror of the words, "Don't try it; the phone's been disconnected" if you haven't been there. You can't make up the way your throat goes tight and silent about some things and how when you discover your voice it's both beautiful and frightening.

Which makes me wonder, how does she manage to write these things at all? How does she face that stuff and get underneath it? How does she create the things she does? I know a lot of people, artists, talk about their "stuff" being fodder for their art and I guess that's true--in my experience it's true enough. But also in my experience you can't just trust that to be there. You can't necessarily access that at will; it's too much. Sometimes when I try to think about things I just go black. I can't imagine writing them down. Well, I guess that's my trauma talking.

Then there's the times that I can talk about stuff--like I can describe in detail being raped in my dorm room my first semester at college--and I can't think why I should bother. It doesn't seem important to me. So it's not an inspiration for art at all. I talk to my husband about things some times and he gets all, "I want to kill the people who did this to you" and I don't know why. Because to me that was just life. Even saying, "My family was abusive," doesn't seem to have any edge to it. It's unimportant.

Or maybe that's just part of my thinking my life is unimportant. That's interesting.