This is the second and last part of ‘The Voices of Me.’ Recovery
My Voice, the Voice of Me
Becoming me, becoming Olga was a journey, a hard journey but also a journey of joy and ending in love. Journeys are strange things, you think you are going in one direction but suddenly you are on a different road in a different country, people say strange things to you which are difficult or maybe even impossible to understand.
On this journey to becoming whole, I passed through a land which was so well known yet being on the other side it became alien. The language I used to speak in this country ceased to exist, I understood their empty words but my words were seen as insanity. I was a schizophrenic they said “please remember that, oh, and while you are at it, remember to stop thinking there is a cure, you are a chronic, a chronic schizophrenic, a biological defect with an incurable disease.” I too, when I had been on the other, other side, studied the books and learned the biology, been told and believed that this was a chronic disease. But now it was me and I couldn’t believe it.
In the beginning I told them my troubles but nobody listened just writing it down. Why they wrote it I don’t know, it was not relevant and played no role. What was important was teaching me my place in the biological scheme of a medical model. Chemistry of the brain was out of sorts due to genetics and so chemicals to fix my defect was the order of the day. Orap, Cisordinol, Risperdal, Leponex were but a few of the ones that I tried on this 10 year journey. I grew big and fat, apathetic and stiff, and as for my brain, well it ceased to connect, disjointed and trapped it filled with wool creating a distance between me and my life. “It will help with your voices which are just a symptom of this serious illness, they are not real don’t you believe it” they said again and again. My feelings were blunted, my emotions were grey, the colour was gone and all I had left was emptiness, endless meaningless emptiness which filled me with despair. That I could feel. Time stretched out, slowed or probably it was, in reality, me, who ground slowly to a halt. I would sit in a chair and think “what should I do today?” and suddenly today was dark, gone, night had arrived. Another meaningless, purposeless day had passed, thank God for the pills, at least I had slept most of that day away… again.
I kept asking them -are you sure there isn’t a mistake surely it’s not possible my life will be like this for the rest of time, my time? I stopped asking when it no longer was I who heard the words of hopelessness. I drove them insane ha! ha! by asking and asking, surely there were exceptions to this horrible rule. But no, neither they, nor I had ever heard of recovery, that many before me had recovered and that yes it was possible! The silence on recovery in the system was deathly and filled the wards and corridors with hopelessness, not just for me but for us all, staff and “schizophrenics” alike. And then the hopelessness spread, after a year or was it two -my family was informed all of us together. I had asked again surely, surely this is not true and now it became imperative that reality was upheld. I had to accept once and for all that this was my life and that I must acknowledge. What better way then, than before witnesses, the witnesses of my past. “Olga is seriously ill and will never recover” they said, “she is too fragile and requires help the rest of her days; she will never work and must of course take medication the rest of her life”. I wanted the ground to open and swallow me alive but instead my voice joined the deathly silence of the system never again to ask, surely, surely this cannot true. The voices of me though, were not quieted they did not go, ever, no matter what little round or long red or green pill I took to silence them, or was it me?
The staff were sweet and kind and they did their best they just didn’t know better and neither did I, I did after all once belong to the other, other side so I know. Diagnosis and prognosis ruled the day so meaning and understanding got lost on the way. They are the experts, they’ve been approved, they must perform and chose genetics as here they can rationalize justify why they cannot possibly, possibly be one of us. The insidious fear that’s lurking that maybe, perhaps they are not so different after all, is “experted” or is it exported away but certainly not faced.
So how did I recover? By looking death in the eye. In my preparations to meet death, I wrote a lie, a lie that shone out of the paper and seared my eyes and I knew, even though I did not believe this strange four-worded sentence, I could not leave this earthly world on a lie. I wrote “I have tried everything” – but I hadn’t. I had not done it my way so busy was I listening to others, so called experts, experts who in reality are as much in the dark about suffering of the mind as the suffers themselves. So I prepared a plan, a concrete plan which in the beginning could be followed step by step and where belief in the plan was an irrelevant companion.
I was conventional or so I thought, though apparently in reality not really. I chose therapy with a therapist I had known from before, the difference this time was I had nothing to lose so no holds were barred and all could be told. “But therapy is not good for a schizophrenic like you” they said “it would unearth too much and make you more ill, settle down, make a scarf instead, that will help”.
I chose therapy anyway.
My therapist could see a difference in me, that I was serious and it filled her with hope, my hope, hope that began to move back into me giving me strength and light, but most important it was the start of my journey back to the living.
Medication, now that was a tricky one. For years I was told, and I truly believed, that I would feel so much worse if I stopped my little white pill or was it red, there were so many they confused my head. But now with death staring me in my face, who cared, it would just give more reason to die if I felt more pain. So they said “no do not stop” but I did it anyway- in secret – and little by little the wool receded, my head became clearer my feelings returned. I felt the pain, the anguish of my new understanding but I also felt joy and a zest for life, they had lied I didn’t feel worse I felt alive. The colour returned and here too my journey began.
I had grown fat with these pills of mine; I’d never been that, so a diet was in order in this new found cure. I started with weightwatchers, just had to mind my points it was irrelevant on what and that I could follow. I followed my points and the weight got lost, I began to move, my energy was back and then one day I had to shop. My clothes were too big and I needed new but now, suddenly, I could shop in a regular store for regular people with regular sizes. That put a smile on my face because now I could dress for this journey of mine.
I had had a dream, once. I was going to be the studier of stars the first woman in space and that required exams not permissible at this school of mine. That is until physics was suddenly allowed- private tuition no less by a teacher who said that he could see something special in this young child… only physics became physic-al and the dream died.
However with this new found plan I wanted to learn, stimulate my mind so I could at least go out with a (big) bang. So the dream was revived a course was found to study the stars, the planets and the start of existence and to my surprise I found my reason, a purpose for being. I found there’s more to life than death, that there is something bigger, greater and more meaningful and that life is no accident! So amazed was I at the grandness of the cosmic universe that I felt a transformation occur within myself and with that transformation my true journey began. My voice from my childhood returned and God came back, only now he is not God, at least not in name. He is the good one, the good voice and with his return everything changed, the balance of power, the balance of control. With him I began the journey of union, uniting the fragments joining each piece of me, to me, to finally become whole, become me, become Olga.