As some of you already know, I am currently writing a “self-help” style book on how to recover from severe mental illness. I was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia twelve years ago, and have been recovering since; this feels real and tangible on some days, and less so on others. But this is not unusual; we all have good days and bad ones.
One of the chapters in my book covers “being honest; what do you need to let go of?” and a second one takes as its subject “why letting go can be hard.”
When I started writing the book, in January of last year, I think I felt as though, having identified these concepts as ones which were pertinent to recovery, I was well on the road to mastering them and thus becoming symptom free. I still hold that belief, but I think some of confidence has been knocked. Either that or my life has become more complex, and so the energy I was using to maintain this confidence is being syphoned off into other, equally if not more important, pursuits and occupations.
What I am realising, or what is becoming clearer to me, is how dam hard it is to leave the experiences you have with schizophrenia behind. I knew this already, hell I’ve written chapters on it. But as the nature of my symptoms shifts, and my life becomes richer and full of more things I now wish to devote my time and energies to, and I realising how tight some of those delusional roots clutch. My energies are still being pulled into processes and pursuits which I don’t want them to be.
People say that if they have an otherworldly, or supernatural experience in their lifetime, it can linger in the mind and the imagination, and be very hard to snuff out entirely in the memory. I feel like I had six years, where all I was having were otherworldly or bizarre experiences. In fact I spent six years living in a world of the imagination, except that my imagination blossomed outwards so that I was seeing and hearing the manifestations of my subconscious, or the wrangled outpourings of my frazzled mind; and these alternately fascinated or terrified me.
Now, the question of how to leave these experiences behind is becoming more pressing and ever more relevant.
When I look back, I do have a degree of regret that I didn’t/couldn’t get a hold on them sooner. A part of me frets that if I’d tried harder, or done something differently, I couldn’t let go of it earlier, or got more of a handle on it sooner, so that it didn’t become to entrenched in my mind. But I know that these regrets are counter productive, and are really only making moving past the whole ordeal harder.
For it is really, dam, hard to move past completely. I am working on it constantly, and I sometimes wonder if this is part of the problem as well (I have written another chapter on this apparently separate subject, the moment you realise you need to stop working and start relaxing!) But I am realising the massive gulf between rational and theoretical understanding, and emotional understanding; because, for the most part, I am rationally past it all. Emotionally however, I’m not so sure.
There are times when I wonder if I have rationalised too much. Through giving rational and psychological underpinnings to everything which happened to me, I have ultimately only given it all more weight in my mind, more credence in my thinking because I have posited theories on every single tiny aspect of something which perhaps should have just been endured, rather than understood on a logical level.
On the flip side to that, I know that some people suggest that introspection and self reflection lead to to greater self awareness and thus a better personal understanding and sense of ownership over the thought processes and trigger events which affect us. This has always been the thinking that has driven me, and has fuelled my attempts to make sense of the experiences I have had; it has always been an attempt to normalise, and demystify (a phrase I use in my book), the massive and often overwhelming experiences which can seem, at first, terrifying and beyond comprehension.
However, on the flip side to that, I recently read something which suggest that this isn’t the case, and it very much depends on how you direct your introspection and focus your self reflection. HA- otherwise you can just end up tying yourself in more knots- go figure.
(Continued in part two…)