Life just changes after you leave the care and attention of a hospital staff, especially in the psych unit where emotions, thoughts, and accommodations to the inner person are the sole focus. Mental health every minute of every day. There’s no transition period. It’s a freaking jump-cut. Here one moment, there the next. No amount of teaching in group could prepare me for the extremes of loneliness that I am presently experiencing.
“My meds are working. Schizophrenia is being untangled from the roots and downy fringe of my neurotransmitters. A new life awaits when I’m back in the world, seventy-two short hours from now. I’m excited. I’m scared. But I’m hopeful. I guess that’s as much as I can ask for, as I bring change 2 my very own mind.”
The day wore on. I think the label read, “Caution: May Cause Drowsiness.” More like slow-motion ennui wrapped in sofa cushion batting. Sit. Stand. Tuck in the sheet. Fluff the pillow. If I’d had a light switch on my side of the door, I’d’ve been flicking it on and off for something creative to do.
In January 2016 I suffered a bout of psychosis on par with that of my earliest breakdowns. Due to self-stigma I tried to present as “normal”, but this particular experience led to consequences which required emergency services and inpatient care.
This three-part series is meant to illustrate my state of mind at the time. Any misperceptions during my stay were due to the symptoms of my disorder. I mean to cast no aspersions. Each individual responsible for my care did their job to the best of their abilities. I am grateful for their kindness, and have the utmost respect for them and their profession. ~HBJ
There’s always more work to be done, more stories to share and mysteries to solve. I’m not willing to lose this weird, wonderful world to my genetic encoding and environmental influences. One brain in one-hundred works like this. That’s nothing to be ashamed of. To the contrary—wouldn’t those odds be considered unique?
Despite the fact that schizophrenia hides the truth from me just for sport, if my personal experience has taught me anything, it is this: we are all connected. Profoundly connected. We don’t have to live life alone. Ever. Desperation will tell us otherwise, but someone is always there. Volunteers, an EMT, or a trusted friend—someone will listen, someone will come. You are a gift that deserves to be cherished. Your light keeps others safe in the dark. Shine brightly, survivor. Shine brightly.
Think about it. Would you let your kids go trick-or-treating as The Sexy Cancer Patient? The Sexy Ebola Victim? Somehow I don’t think you would. I’d like to think that nobody would. Then again, I’m an artist who defends everyone’s right to self-expression. I’m also one of those annoying mental health advocates who believes in the dignity of every human being regardless of their diagnosis. You know, one of those people.