By November 27, 2014Blog

I cry when it gets too confusing. Or I bang my head against the countertop. Sometimes I do both. It seems a viable solution in a room full of mirrors.

The tears are not wet, they are trails of ideas about hollowness, echoes, and thirst. Black and blue are only colors, and make the canvas art. Otherwise, it’s whole cloth.

There is no drama, no need for affect. My tears flow with no value attached. The ache is merely fever. These are brief panaceæ, cloud breaks in a hurricane. There is no more a cure for loneliness than for gravitational pull.

I dream of a world where I live in the present with a past and a future and a friend. A life where I know the person beside me, the one beside them, and the next. We are connected like pearls named a new thing: necklace, treasure, pride.

A quarter-inch of skull separates my experience of you from yours of me, but schizophrenia insists that there is no difference. It holds me ransom for fortunes undiscovered. Artless, I agree to pay. No guy-wire, no safety net, an ill-fated Fool tripping into the firmament.

The riddle of the slideshow lies in my immediate memories: they are all I have to chart my course, and they’ve gone missing. I have lost the first image before the second one shines through. The blunt force of emotional trauma, like the countertop meeting the face, upends the slide tray and leaves the projector indifferent, revealing nothing. There is only now, and I am the only one here. That is the single piece of evidence defining this landscape of loss.

I am learning about this machine called my mind, how it keeps time colder than shadows. How the gearwheels and teeth and hammers and grease bring emptiness to life. Was there something here before? Was there someone in this room? Was a table set in anticipation of hands and hearts and joy?

The scrip sits idle on the bathroom shelf like dormant sea monkeys awaiting baptism. Ironic only in that a clumsy jump would award them grace and bless their evolutionary crawl. From sink to stomach, pills to Plath, beanstalks to giants, perchance to dream. I cannot feel my loneliness the way I feel touch. I am free falling faithless and afraid to land.

But there is hope. There is always hope. At least that’s what they say. I am not sure that I understand hope, or what it looks like in its natural state, but I imagine it feels a little like a mystery gift in the hands of a child. It is not on my map, but I’m willing to explore. I need to know more about who I am, what drives my illness to create this void. There was something here before. There was someone in this room. There was prayer, devotion, supplication – a time to dance and a time to sing.

I remember those days. They wrench me back away from the table, to a time when there was no place called home. When the meals were scraps from a stranger’s plate. Impersonating a waiter I could bus the dishes, eating what the diners left behind. In my darkest moments, when benediction held no sway, there were always garbage cans. I would tell myself that wasn’t me pawing through them looking for food. That it was a play, and I was Oliver twisted a tiny Gollum, seeking shelter from the rain under eaves in the alley. Precious like pearls, not alone and discarded.

I have hit myself and burned myself. I have cut my skin. I’ve starved myself. None of which has ever helped me manage the terror and confusion. Treatment has lit a ray of optimism, but I may have come too late to the table. A candle in the shadow of a sunspot is a flashlight on the dark side of the moon. Still, I am indebted for every person that has offered their help. Without them I would be institutionalized, homeless, or dead. Proof that kindness works miracles.

Conversation is the appetizer, action is the entree. Healing is the banquet, gratitude the fullness of spirit. I am thankful that my blankets which were once old coats are now cotton and not cardboard. I rest my head on a feather pillow rather than a sack full of papers. I dream of a world where I live connected, without discrimination and stigma.

Schizophrenia has taken me to places which, thankfully, few will ever have to know. I tell my story that others might be encouraged to share their own. And somehow, in a way I don’t yet fully understand, I find myself thankful for the loneliness which teaches me daily the values of humanity and love.


  • karrie says:

    Sweetly put in words for a beautiful madness.

  • Kate says:

    HBJ- thank you. So well written! I Kudos. Why to put it paper. Be proud….

  • Diana says:

    There is hope. We shall become the teachers. We will make words like you have done so well here, and we will continue with them until someone comprehends what it means to lose reality and be filled with fear.

  • Mary says:

    THANK YOU!!! I am in the midst of my son’s Schizophrenia if that is what it truly is, but delusions and hallucinations or mood changes are still a crisis and torments everyone that loves the person still living the hell!

  • Jane says:

    Ah, Henry! You have created a piece of art about what your illness looks and feels like. While I am sorry for your pain, I am grateful for your ability to write about it and share it. You are an amazing and talented man.

  • Henry Boy says:

    To Karrie and Jane: Thank you for your kind words and encouragement. Art and a good conversation can help open the minds and hearts of others. Many thanks.

    To Diana: I agree – there is hope. Sharing our stories is the best way I know that we can inform others about the defining parameters of our individual diagnoses. We can make a difference! Thank you.

    To Mary: I am sorry that you have to be on the outside of your son’s difficult disorder; I can only assume that it must feel somewhat helpless, as others have shared that with me about our relationship. Mental illness can be very challenging for all concerned. I am not a psychiatrist or a therapist, but a person living with schizophrenia. I know from my experience that we do not choose to be confused or difficult, nor do we have any control over the delusional states or hallucinations that our disorder creates. You are correct – it is its own kind of hell. Bless you for caring for your son as he deals with this debilitating illness. My heart goes out to each of you as you come to terms with this current cycle of the diagnosis, and I believe that you will get through it with love and patience as you work with your professionals and talk with caring people.

    My best to you all for a happy 2015.

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