I had a dream, a nice one. In it, we were in a city, my daughter, my son and I, unsure which but it didn’t matter. My husband was coming back from somewhere, so we had to start on a journey back. We had our brand new car, a cute little Fiat 500.
Once my husband arrived we began driving back to wherever, and I said to him, why do we have to go back? Let’s keep moving! Perhaps we had dropped off my second son in Uni, so there was only our daughter (9 yesterday!) and my black cat and the birds. We had to pick up our cat on the way, for some reason when people arrived in this city cats had to be dropped off and they could stay in little houselets scattered round town.
I told him of all the cool places we could go, self-sustaining centres where, with his talents and mine, we could become new managers of the place, have our own multicultural and free-gathering centre. So we travelled, passed a couple of cool places, then arrived through a city I have visited before in my dreams, on the sea, very crowded. By then our Fiat 500 had turned into a Campervan, and we had to park it. My husband was somewhere else but I knew we’d meet up with him. End of dream.
I was left with a pleasant feeling of possibilities, and travelling sensations. Life, evolving, moving along, going ahead. Because that is all that matters. Of the people I have lost, the greatest tragedy is not knowing how they could have become, not seeing them grow into that horrendous old hag, that honest old man.
Not knowing how their character would have evolved.
The problem with medication, and designation, and diagnoses, is that they impede development. I am still translating my dad’s book and I see so many indicators, I am not a psychologist but I can see the “mental illness” in many actions and decisions. What makes a difference between the mentally ill and those that have serious mental twists and yet live on, evolve, interact with other people, whether pleasantly or destructively? A diagnosis. I believe having too much awareness of your mental illness stops you from doing loads, from expecting things to change, from evolving, from planning.
Some of the stuff some people in my life have been doing, which have seriously affected many other people, fall most definitely in the field of mental illness. Would a diagnosis have helped? Maybe, maybe not, but the thing is, even the most horrid, disappointing, devastating people have created other people through their actions: some people have become better people because of them, or in learning to battle them, even.
Everyone has a use, everyone contributes to the evolution of a lot of other peoples’ lives: if you, diagnosed as mentally ill and therefore alienated from all life, all people, avoiding interaction as much as possible, remove yourself from the equation, nothing, nothing will change for anybody: you will affect some people, some people you might stop affecting but something else will affect them instead, and that something else may be better or worse than you, more or less productive than you.
Everybody counts. Every single last person, and animal even!
I spent a great part of my daughter’s birthday yesterday in bed with her, as she cried remembering and missing her beautiful cat Booklet, our white cat, who got run over last year. I could have chosen to restrict Booklet to the house. There was an actual decision to let her out, despite our neighbour warning us that she was crossing the super-busy road, despite her getting hurt by other cats, despite my own feeling, that very day, and my asking her “please come back Booklet”. I chatted with the vet, chatted with myself, and decided that I could keep her safe, inside, but unhappy and restless and frustrated (she thanked me, she really did, when I started letting her out again after her injury had healed) or I could risk losing her and allow her to explore, put herself in danger, be happy. I, and my daughter, who even now does not blame me, chose the latter. It was only a few days later than she got run over. She had been extra affectionate with us those past few days, extra happy, extra purring. Did she know? Of course, she was “just a cat”, but I like to think she knew we could have made the decision of restricting her, and keeping her safe, and she was grateful we chose to let her live freely instead. And die, free, too 😦
The only difference between removing yourself from the equation, either though chosen isolation, hermitage*or the most drastic measure of all, is that you’ll never know how you will become.
That is reason enough for me, curiosity is a strong drive for me I guess. That’s what I replied when my therapist asked me what kept me alive, what thought was strongest in bringing me back from that brink when it loomed. Chaos, and the certainty of change, is my ally.
But given a diagnosis, and medication, and controls, and barriers to live within, I have a pretty good idea of where I would be, and how I’d be. And that is what kills you: the lack of adventure, of possibility, of allowing chaos to come in and ruffle you a little.
I follow the blog of someone affected by Parkinson’s, a constant beautiful source of inspiration (his blog, not the Parkinson’s). Parkinson’s is one of the illnesses that scares me the most, because of how it affects your movement.
He just recently saw a thing whereby a person with Parkinson’s is given a bike and they go smooth and fluid as nothing else. Isn’t that just amazing? Could he have expected it the day before? I sure didn’t!
Those pills I was taking, the Citalopram, which I have yet to pick up, did affect me. I have noticed I am quicker to anger, more nervous, without them. A voice tells me you should go get them, another says don’t, just don’t. You have more ideas, more hope now. Yes you are more volatile, and chances are it might get worse, but it might also get better. My mind is clearer, less foggy, and what I was taking was quite low! What would happen to me if I had a greater cocktail?**
It’s the stagnation, the inevitability, the sentence that really kills you
* speaking to myself a lot here, that is where my thoughts go since I’ve had children: if I walk past the suicidal thought tendency, and I do because I have my children and dependants and husband, I then walk right into the “I must go away, far away” room, and find it quite hard to skip THAT window. If you don’t catch this reference then you haven’t read Hotel New Hampshire by John Irving and you’re missing out.
** In my second to last counselling, I was so low that the therapist said he’d write to my GP so that she might consider upping the dose of antidepressants. On my last one, however, I was relaxed and happy we discussed only CBT ways to deal with my emotional distress intolerance.