Epilogue to Manic Memories by Carolyne Olson

EPILOGUE

 

I visit the Ward now when I go for appointments. You can’t go home again. You are the adult going back to a childhood homestead. It seems much smaller, static, subdued, ordinary and uneventful. All the places and things you used to be able to make come to life are now lifeless and uninspiring. You now lack that special power in your mind that can make a toy out of a cardboard box or that can convince you a monster lives under the bed. You try to recapture the overactive imagination. But the magic is gone. The expanding, developing mind of the child is gone. The home in your mind is still and silent.

You have swung back to normal from your high. You feel like you have swung back past normal because of where you have been, but you are at normal. That’s tough to come to realize because if this is normal, who wants it. The fiction doesn’t feel like truth anymore. Everything seems particularly ordinary, dull and flat only because your mind knows there is an enticing alternative state of fantasy and forgotten horror. Flat and dull. No, it’s not the drugs. The drugs do their thing on your brain, but this is the mind. It’s where you’ve been and what you’ve seen and felt. You will never forget the episodes you’ve been allowed to remember. You have lived in a part of your mind that 99% of people will never visit. You know it will be difficult for them to imagine this world of so many possibilities. It is an intoxicating and absorbing world. It’s a world where everything can come together for a moment in time as if planned to reveal and explain all mysteries. The meaning of the universe and earth’s role. The way to save the rain forests, stop hunger, and cure your fellow “patients”. Even realizing and feeling the excitement of the second coming of Christ. Very serious. You don’t even have to be a believer. Everything is to make sense only to you and you know it. Naturally it feels like a superior and privileged outlook. You don’t see it as a problem, things making sense to you. Who wouldn’t want to visit this world to feel and know extraordinary things? Alas there is horror to the same degree of fantasy. You don’t want that fear. Most importantly, the high just can’t be sustained. Back to the cruel world sometime.

Hopefully the words written here start to bridge the gap between the two worlds. Literally like after walking on the moon, the mind doesn’t allow you to perceive walking on the earth in the same way anymore. It can be a let down. And it can go beyond that understandably. You are susceptible. It can also be a gift, a newly expanded perspective of possibilities.

In the final analysis, realism can be as potent as fantasy. Time to take off those rose coloured glasses and face facts. The gift is just a camouflaged box full of reality, even if it is new and improved. You made it back but now you have to face the music. In this writing, my own illness has totally crystallized in my mind. The fact that I was not of this world. Had a screw loose. Lost my marbles. I was a real nutter. It did happen, but not as I remember it. To me it was my life. I was hanging on to a moving train, looking for a step up. But now I can remember it for what it was in reality. To me I was searching for something when in reality I was just lost. To me it was my play when in reality I had nothing to do with it. To me it was heaven when in reality it was catatonia. To me it was a work of art when in reality it was just a picture hanging upside down. To me it was a throne when in reality it was just an old chair. To me it was an inferno when in reality it was just the laundry room. To me I was aloft and aloof when in reality I was alone and apart. To me it was just real fear when in reality it was paranoia. To me I was all powerful when in reality I was powerless. A misfit. Fit to be locked up. Soon to be a menace on society at large. Perhaps even harmful to myself. I know the disorder exists in me. At bay. Invisible to me and others. Some days I can feel it more than others. It is a bitter pill to swallow. It was a very difficult experience.

The disorder, when active, never gives you a recess and never lets up. No time-out. You will probably never experience anything as difficult unless you are held hostage or buried alive. But if you do, you can count on the mysterious will to survive to be there in your darkest moments. Thank God for medical science. Trying to sort it all out. The mind from the brain and visa versa.

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Manic Memories: Post 35

THE FINAL MOMENTS: AUGUST 19TH

3PM and still waiting for a drive like a child. I look up from the pay phone and in she breezes as if on cue. They’ve been holding her back just until my breaking point. They’ve been watching me get more frustrated in trying to leave here. They’ve been keeping her in a back room. That nurse knew exactly what was wrong. Finally they allow her to enter the stage.

Bad habit to think this way. You know it isn’t so. You can tell the difference now. She says she was supposed to come at 3PM. I couldn’t remember that. She sounds legit. I’m sure she speaks the truth. We go to my room to collect a few last things.

As we exit, nurse Jill wants to say good-bye. Dr. Cashell appears behind her as if planned. I can tell I am smiling ear to ear. No more roadblocks now.

Later that day I realize my thinking is like an old bad habit. I make connections again and again where none exist and I have to try to stop it.

There is too much commotion for me. I just want my drive and to leave. I would prefer to leave out a back door if there was one. Thank goodness all the patients are at Group. I only told a few I’m gone.

Finally we are out the door and the curtain comes down.

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Manic Memories: Post 34

THE INTERVIEW

The third interview. Lunch. Wednesday July 8th, 1PM.

I took the afternoon off work. Looks like I have it.

I was perfect in the first two. An answer for everything.

We meet at his office and he says he has only one hour for me.

He wants to confirm I understand the duties of the job. That I want it.

After all, I think, they found me. The headhunter said they wanted my specific experience.

He says they have seen other candidates, but I am the one.

He dresses well, is tall, has a Scottish accent and looks.

We discuss people in common on the way to lunch. A happy walk.

Lunch is at a restaurant that brews its own beer. I hate beer.

It’s very crowded. He looks around for people he knows, listening.

We talk about nothing. We order. He describes the job one last time and I nod.

We talk salary. The headhunter has not done their job. Our ranges do not overlap and of course mine is higher. He asks how I arrived at my range.

I was told that’s what the job was paying and that it was a justifiable increase.

I was embarrassed for him, not me. I have nothing to lose.

I am happy, I am patient, I am dignified.

Lunch arrives and I’m not too hungry now. Silence. We try to eat.

He tests me some more on some technical questions. They are poor questions.

We walk back and he says he always gets lost. I lead.

We talk about accidents with car phones and I joke about them.

He says he has one. For the first time I am embarrassed.

But he didn’t offer me a car or a car phone, just a lousy salary.

He says he wants to make a decision by Friday. The headhunter will call.

The headhunter did call. What happened at lunch? The offer is your current salary??

Don’t they communicate. Who’s telling the truth?

They are playing good-guy bad-guy with me, but which is which? Who can I trust?

They are waring me down. That must be it. They are playing with me.

I don’t even get back to them by Friday. I’m no longer interested.

I’ve been insulted. I’m going to Niagara-on-the-Lake for the weekend.

 

 

It must have been a set-up, a hoax. The whole interview process.

Right from the initial phone call to the last phone call.

An actor with a phony Scottish accent.

He didn’t even seem to know what he was talking about technically.

I guess you can only rehearse so much of an interview. Improvisation.

He tried to get me to eat seafood salad!

He would have known I hate seafood as much as I hate beer. Pretty funny.

He must have used that office, that company, by permission.

What is the purpose of this exercise? To see if I’ll leave my job.

No, it’s bigger than that. They went to too much trouble.

Well I’ll play dumb and turn down the job and ruin this big game.

They weren’t playing games with me, someone big is playing games with me.

This is one big hoax but I’ll try and ignore it.

Forget about it and concentrate on your driving.

You’re on your way to Buffalo and Niagara-on-the-Lake!

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Manic Memories: Post 33

THE WEEKEND PASS – AUGUST 15TH AND 16TH

The road to recovery.

Dr. Cashell tells me I can go home over Saturday night.

If that goes well I might be able to go home next week. Forever.

That’s the best thing I’ve heard in a long time.

I have become increasing bored on the Ward.

I can hardly get through the days here.

My four hour passes give me a taste of freedom and then take it away from me.

It’s back to pacing the halls and eating that food.

To think I used to find pacing a necessity for thinking. I enjoyed it!

My doctor says to have plans for the weekend. She must mean the opposite.

Some reverse psychology. Keeping me on my toes.

I tell her I just want to read the newspaper in my favourite chair. I’d be thrilled to.

That’s how much this place is irritating me.

I am however apprehensive about this weekend.

My thinking isn’t all straight.

I still think I might sleepwalk. Things seem planned in minor ways.

I’m not sure what to expect back at my apartment after five weeks.

Carla says one night isn’t really a weekend.

I’m challenged to ask Dr. Cashell to go home Friday night as well.

She finally agrees after trying to figure out the reason for my sudden change.

Back at the apartment things are so quiet and still. There are no people.

I have so much room to myself.

Quite different than being one of four in a room.

I am so restless and nervous.

I start one project and interrupt it for another. I can’t think straight.

I rent two movies: Steven Spielberg’s Always and Woody Allen’s Alice.

I thoroughly enjoy both of them but I keep stopping the tape to do things.

Sunday I go to the Metro Zoo with Mom.

We walk forever. I have such energy, like I have recently.

We go to the polar bears to see if they scare me, I can’t forget that polar bear hallucination.

I still want to hake connections and associations.

Mom isn’t aware why I’m fascinated with polar bears.

They just sleep in the sun. Nothing to be afraid of here.

I feel better there is no connection.

I am coming to realize it was all in my head and that makes me happy.

It is going to make sense after all.

We talk about Luke and that becomes very real.

The more details, the more real.

We walk and walk and we talk and talk.

By the end of the weekend I am not half as restless or nervous.

There weren’t any tricks or hoaxes waiting for you.

Even though you looked for them.

I’ve remembered all of my pills.

And most importantly I’ve read my weekend paper in my favourite leather chair.

Like a real ordinary person.

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Manic Memories: Post 32

COMMUNITY MEETINGS – TUESDAY AUGUST 11TH

I really must be getting well.

It is now clear to me just how pointless these community meetings are.

Nothing gets accomplished.

I get out my pen as usual and draw the plan of who’s in attendance.

These meetings used to fascinate me. Their purpose didn’t really matter.

This was always my opportunity to study everyone in one place.

All the interactions. Watch things play out.

Take stock.

The room became a stage. All for my benefit.

I couldn’t wait for the next line someone might speak.

Quite a mind stimulator. All those doctors, nurses and patients in one place.

I could never see it for what it was until this week.

Same old problems. No real attempts at solutions.

Ward’s too noisy.

No drugs or alcohol.

Who’s going home.

Really quite boring now.

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Manic Memories: Post 31

THE CHURCHES – TUESDAY AUGUST 4TH

The nurse tells us that there is music in the parks.

Off John, Debby and I go to St. James Cathedral and then the Metropolitan.

Both places have noon-hour concerts on.

I can’t enjoy either.

This Haldol has such an effect on me.

I am so weighed down I don’t think I can walk any farther.

The others yell at me to hurry up.

I can’t help it, I float in slow motion, arms at my sides.

It’s as if something is holding me back.

 

PERPHENAZINE – WEDNESDAY AUGUST 5TH

Today Dr. Cashell tells me that I will be switched to Perphenazine instead of Haldol.

She says it is more for the long term.

I can’t believe how freer I feel with this drug. I hardly feel drugged.

I run around happy as I haven’t been in quite some time.

I stop at the nurses station to tell Dr. Cashell how much better I feel on this drug.

She’s reading charts of two new patients and tells me to go away before I can say anything.

Everyone probably wishes I never got over my fear of speaking.

 

FREEDOM WEEK

I’m given four hour passes every day this week.

I can go anywhere and do anything.

I take a tour of the Dome, I visit William at his new work, I go to the ROM, I go to the movies and I basically can walk everywhere or take the subway.

Each day seems fuzzy when I think of it the next day.

I’ve been having this problem for a while.

I can’t remember what I do from one day to the next unless I look in my diary.

They say it’s the drugs, or something, but it’s the strangest feeling.

I normally have such a good memory.

It’s better than thinking I black-out.

I’m pretty sure I don’t do that anymore.

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Manic Memories: Post 30

THE HOSPITAL DIARY

Dr. Cashell is being replaced this week by the other Resident, Dr. Benson.

The “replacement” concept doesn’t seem to register with me.

I think I’m left to my own devices and I like it.

She asks how I feel with Dr. Cashell away. I tell her great.

I can figure things out on my own much better.

I don’t elaborate any more than that.

I never saw the purpose in Dr. Cashell anyway. Her role in things.

I prefer it this way I think to myself, it seems to work in with everything I’ve been thinking in the past few days.

You can’t be too sure who’s in on the bigger picture.

If they choose to withdraw my doctor from the events going on here, so be it.

What is it to me. It’s in the plan.

Somehow Dr. Benson understands things and tells me to keep a diary of notes like Dr. Cashell would on me.

She says I’ll understand what’s “happening” better.

I ask her to repeat what she is trying to say as I didn’t get the analogy yet.

Everything has double meanings.

People only seem to mean what they say. It’s all code.

I have to pick up on something said and further develop it to get the real meaning.

Analogy? She looks very confused, but repeats herself.

She says to ask for a doctor when I need one.

If I only knew which doctor she meant. Mine is gone, isn’t that the plan?

On Friday the 24th I start a diary that has been guaranteed by this person to “reduce my highs and lows” and let me “remain independent in my work”.

I ponder the real meaning of those statements in my greater scheme of things.

What is my “work”, my purpose here I wonder. Is she trying to tell me something about the religious ideas I’ve been having? Does she know?

I think she is only the messenger, like a diligent angel.

She doesn’t understand her message, she just gives it.

She doesn’t even understand that she doesn’t understand it.

It is for me to decipher and understand.

And I’m having a hard time understanding!

That’s why when I spoke of analogies she was confused.

I shouldn’t confuse her. I’ll keep those higher things to myself.

I know I have to figure it out myself. They don’t make it easy.

I will proceed with the diary.

 

(The following are a number of sections from the Hospital Diary)

 

FRIDAY JULY 24TH, 12 NOON

Status much the same as yesterday. Still tired.

Check on Haldol and Cogentin (use of).

I know some things don’t make sense and are preposterous or in fact currently impossible, mixed in with things that are possible and do make sense. This doesn’t seem to bother or upset me now like last week.

Therefore things must be clearer, even though a lot doesn’t seem real.

Loud noises don’t seem to bother me anymore.

People don’t bother me so much –

I have more patience. Not having to repeat myself or ask people to repeat themselves so much today.

SATURDAY JULY 25TH, 9:30PM

Mom visited 6:20 to 7:20. We went for a walk looking for lottery places. No luck. I thought I had the winning numbers – imagine that. Very silly. Left her with numbers anyway.

I was extremely frustrated and anxious when my nurse couldn’t take me out and Mom was late. I felt trapped. This place is such a bore on the weekends! Lawrence and John showed up and I felt better. They gave me chocolate. I must have asked four times to go out. Not enough staff.

MONDAY JULY 27th, 6:30PM

Long day. Dr. Cashell + I discussed many things in her office. I told her I thought I did things I wasn’t aware of. Sleepwalking – art. Told her of two pictures. She mentioned Doctor’s Dilemma.

Got a one hour pass 3-4 and John and I went to the Eaton Centre.

Got watch battery, saw turtles in aquarium store – goldfish gone or didn’t see them. Angel fish in large display front tank.

Go to library tomorrow 12:30 – 3:30. Get pass. They are good for one hour a day anytime – on my own. Mom won’t be here ’til Wednesday at 2PM with an appt. to see Dr. Cashell after visit. Cashell said I might have a brain scan. Might get to see Dr. Jeffrey, head of Moodswing at the Clarke Institute.

My thoughts are OK, but I’m into myself. I don’t notice things change around me. Sheila at phone – I saw her get the call, but later when I wanted to make a call I was surprised that she was there.

Not aware of externals – mind must be concentrating too hard on all the angles to this saga. When will it end? Just like two lives. Can’t resolve it. Everything flows like a play, special effects and all. Every line or movement by me or someone else is like pre-arranged, rehearsed.

Anxiety less. Restless (maybe cogentin can fix). Thoughts aren’t racing – just into myself. Listening to music slows me down. I can focus to a certain extent on it. I forgot why I was on this page, I checked the previous page and it was written the same day, and then I view it and recognize it and only then remember doing it. It only seemed that I wrote one page. But I recognized and remembered.

Not like with drawings – they seem familiar, but I don’t remember doing them.

WEDNESDAY July 29TH, 11:30AM

My thoughts still consist of what’s real and what isn’t. Did this happen or didn’t it? – in the general sense. My short-term memory is poor. I know there is something more to this.

THURSDAY JULY 30TH, 6:36PM

Nothing changed. May decide to talk about things Friday. Have set up Saturday for visit to grave and get hair cut (not that the two should go together).

Can’t get my puzzle ring back together.

TUESDAY AUGUST 4TH, 10:30PM

Still don’t know about that play and things in here – still think I did play or at least sets. Can’t get that out of my mind. Things are much clearer though. I was spacey today when John, Debby and I went to St. James Cathedral and Metropolitan for noon concerts.

THURSDAY AUGUST 6TH, MORNING

Didn’t sleep a wink last night. Generally, I readily remember dreams now that I’m on these drugs (lithium + perphenazine)

My mind is not clouded – I’m functioning at a good speed.

My boss thought I sounded great on the phone – the best since.

SATURDAY AUGUST 8TH

Perphenazine working wonders. Off Haldol. I feel quite normal again. Still concerned about sleepwalking. Mom and I went to a movie and dinner. As I reflect on August 11th it doesn’t seem like a cloudy visit. Only slightly.

 

 

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Manic Memories: Post 29

FOOD

Food is brought to me on trays and it scares me.

Why are they giving me this stuff I can’t stand?

I stare at it and try to find reasoning in the choices.

Is everything meant to be a challenge?

Who’s in charge of choosing this stuff anyway.

Of the things I do eat, I’m afraid as soon as I taste them they’ll taste like something else, something I hate.

I think rice will taste like peas, tea like coffee.

Slowly I try things.

I even drink a real cup of coffee I think that is meant to challenge me.

I’ve never had coffee in my life and I hate every second of it, but I did it.

Every meal it is interesting to see what they have in store for me.

Later I am able to get my own tray, after having stolen a few that didn’t belong to me.

I couldn’t understand the system.

Strange, but the menus look the same as in Boston. Food was better there.

Finally Lauren shows me how to order what I want from my own menu.

I always forget to order on time.

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Manic Memories: Post 28

LUKE

Luke is my brother.

My younger brother but my bigger brother.

Two doctors want to talk to me.

Dr. Cashell and one I’ve never heard of on the Ward.

What could this mean?

They say my Mother has some bad news for me and she’s waiting outside the Ward.

They’ve decided to tell me now not later.

The other doctor does all the talking and talks like she’s reading from a script.

She talks as if she knows me. I’ve never laid eyes on her.

I look at Dr. Cashell but she has nothing to say.

Do I want to talk to my Mother?

Sure, why not.

I’m alone in the big room with my Mother.

She tells me straight out that Luke is dead.

What a thing to say.

Why would she say such a thing?

She’s upset and I can’t relate. All I can say is did he have life insurance.

She’s a hell of a good actress if it isn’t true, because she’s very upset.

This whole game has gone just a little to far.

They are sinking so low as to tell me my brother is dead.

A heart attack?

Do they think I’m dense.

Who dies of a heart attack at 26?

They are being very cruel here.

Is this a test?

If I believe it, then I’m better?

Let’s reconsider that it might be true.

It’s too cruel not to be real.

Proof, I need proof.

Take me to where he is.

My Mother talks to the doctors and together they tell me I can go to the site.

They look extremely concerned as they tell me. Such long faces.

They say I can go on Saturday.

I’m very calm.

To me it is a puzzle of meaning.

I must logically figure out the meaning of why this is being told to me.

Did he die, and what possible purpose does his death serve?

We go and there’s no plaque there yet.

We discuss how it should read.

She tells me more details.

Outside of the hospital I start to believe.

It’s easier to believe that Luke was but not is my brother.

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Manic Memories: Post 27

THE DOCTOR’S OFFICE

Today my visit with Dr. Cashell will be in her office.

Can I bring some things please?

I have collected all sorts of things that I can ask her about.

They confuse me.

First I have the drawing of the many angles.

I show it to her sideways……..what do you see?

She can’t identify. She doesn’t have the power. I don’t tell her what it is.

She can’t appreciate it.

I hold up the next drawing of my guardian angel.

I think this is the most beautiful rendering of an angel I’ve ever seen.

Did I do this when I was first admitted? She says no, I was too sick.

Penny left it for me on her wall. Was that because I always stared at it or because I actually did it?

I sleepwalk so I have no idea of what I do.

I’m sure I did this drawing, which is a work of art.

She just isn’t telling me the truth.

I have a National Geographic with me. Things don’t make sense.

Why would they promote killing of elephants or bathing in nuclear contaminated water.

She seems to have an answer for everything.

Finally I have the program from “The Doctor’s Dilemma”.

I’ve had it with me all along and have looked at it from time to time.

She points out that George Bernard Shaw isn’t my name.

I tell her I must write under another name. Not uncommon.

She seems satisfied with that explanation.

I say I just can’t understand when I wrote it. When?

I was hoping she’d finally give me some explanation for that.

Somehow she’s not leveling with me or she doesn’t understand.

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