except it was a misdiagnosis.
Sometimes I think of PTSD as a visitation- some former me scared and in need of a calm that never came, resurfacing to search.
It literally hurts my heart, this feeling. Valves and ventricles gummed up as they clock overtime, pumping as much guilt and and shame as blood. My blood is dirty, the shame gone cellular, erythrocytes carrying microscopic needles that tear at tense muscle, capillary walls rent, arterioles leaking, valves flapping wild over a spray more chemical than cleansing.
I wish that I could rinse this thing- take it out, rinse it like worn clothing in a mountain stream, warm it in sunlight. It needs an inflatable kiddie pool, tulip colored bubbles, a foldable lawn chair that molds to its shape, suspended over green grass under a sky fat with clouds. It needs a kiss- a wet cold popsicle kiss, a run through the sprinkler, a rainbow.
That I can even imagine such things- rainbows, kisses, sun-hot lawn chairs and green grass- in the midst of panic speaks of how far I’ve come.
In the nuthouse- nuthouse #3, the scene of my book- I slept well. Heavily drugged, it was actually quite difficult for me to be conscious. They made me stand indefinitely, to force wakefulness. I “admitted” to the Group when I fell asleep outside of ordained sleeping hours, and I was continuously confronted for the same. My handwriting changed- ridiculously so- drooping and dribbling across the page into incoherency, before stopping altogether on a falling, wiggly line.
When I was released, the drugs came with me. School day mornings I dragged myself from bed, turned the shower on, locked the bathroom door, and slept on the bath mat until caught. I slept in classes, turned in assignments primarily composed of wavering lines and drool.
“When [he] is awake,” my 9th grade Sociology teacher said in my IEP meeting, “[he] brings a college level of intelligence and maturity to class conversations. But he is not often awake.”
That day they determined to move me to a self-contained Special Ed school. A trailer, incidentally, in the back end of a community college.
Soon afterwards I refused the medications.Believing said meds to be the slender thread holding our family together -as, in ill families, silencing and force usually are-, my mother threw me out. I moved to my father’s. New town, new special ed school. I stopped sleeping.
For the rest of the year I only slept in fifteen minute catnaps in the taped out space of The Swang-banger’s classroom floor.
Because I’ve determined that everything I write now will nurture my renewed book-efforts, I will also claim that the person, heart-sick and feverish, restless and panicked in me tonight is the 15 year old kid that didn’t sleep for an entire year, following a year robbed of consciousness.
At the time I believed, as I’d been told, that I carried a progressive, incurable disease that would eventually rob me of my sanity altogether. This made time sacred to me, and the only meaningful moment the present. With the clock of my mind ticking down to dissolution, I could not waste time to sleep. So I chainsmoked. I paced. I wrote. I danced. I sang. I philosophized, in the way that only a too smart and totally fucked up 15 year old can do. My heart ballooned with the joy and ridiculousness of the world as I saw it.
And I daydreamed. Except at night- all night- I daydreamed of being someone not less broken, but confidently broken- if not someone capable of healing, then someone brilliantly fucked and running a fabulous show.
My father said that I was someone not meant for this world, someone who could not make it. Incurable, progressive- nuthouse #3 warned my mother that I would never leave home or support myself independently.
They said that the only safety-gate between my-then standard of crazy and complete loss of functioning was the medications they’d distributed to me.
But I refused them, and chose to be awake for the time that I had.
I’ll say this for the panicked kid in me tonight: [He] was brave. Really fucking brave. And I will tape a space out on my heart for him so he can rest.
- June 4, 2012
- (dis)ability, community, crossings, death, family, family history, forgiveness, friends, gender, healing, interiors, isms, joy, loss, love and other mixed bags, my father's house, people and other frustrations, photographs we didn't take, shaped by absence, social services, the short bus, time
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