By Louise M. Hart
Don’t look at me
Does my face threaten your subjectivity
Or put you off your cup of tea?
I took my tablets today
So now I’m symptom free
What do you see…
When you meet my glare?
I pull out my hair
And worry that you can see my scaly skin
Through the tear
In my jeans or smell my underwear
I pretend not to care
But I am crucified inside
Like Jesus Christ mounted on a cross of mind
After forty days and forty nights in the wilderness
Of my turbulent mental flight
Like squabbling lovers my thoughts scream and shout
I try to quieten them
In case you can hear
But you laugh in fear
Don’t look at me
I look at you
And suddenly remember that you are only three
I saw you wrap your cardigan
Around your hips
And wanted to be that cardigan
Binding your hips
My hands reaching for the comforting
Of your effervescent flesh
Playing love tunes
With strands of your hair
As it swept against
The rise and fall
Of your comely breasts
My skin warmed by the scent
Of your measured breaths
And your image strained
My cavernous thoughts
Like my hand on your flesh
I wanted to be
The last word on your tongue
Before you slept
Not your cardigan
But your mouth
And prescribed me a thousand milligrams
And an appointment with Dr Hart
Of darkest Ayrshire and Arran
In the first Gaelic Autumn
Of my Anglo –Saxon soul
And spiritual sickness
Sunday Morning Sickness
Half the world is made insane
We are dependent on prescription pills
With unpronounceable names
On the concepts of suffering and pain
Consuming substances, like Big Mac suppers
That make us do as we are told
We are chained, like dogs, to our T.V. screens
And warned never to grow old
Like Frankenstein’s culturally constructed bride
We are the emasculated end product of our creator’s terminal ill health
A marketable sickness, the human condition bleeds, like an open wound
And whilst, medicine eases infections
It cannot heal the soul
Predating conception, we were born to destroy ourselves
NOW AVAILABLE-A Life Reborn by Louise M. Hart http://www.amazon.com/Life-Reborn-Louise-M-Hart
My body is rebelling against me; it is screaming, “Be kind!” Years of self-destructiveness have affected my physical health, I have chosen the life of the mind above the call of somatic well-being. Those of us who watched The Rolling Stones’ set at Glastonbury, will be only too aware of how lifestyle “choices” are reflected in the faces that we wear. Last Saturday night I saw the walking dead perform and it was not pretty. However, evidence that they are still alive suggests that someone is on their side. Power to them, I do not think I shall be so lucky.
In the heat of my psyche, the will to write and bipolar disorder unite and battle for supremacy. On days when I do not write, I prickle with agitation. When I write, my mind focuses with such intensity upon the object of my will, that afterwards, I feel drained to the point of sleep. The adrenaline I produce in the act of writing lingers long after I have finished and thus, I become subject to the contradictory desires of sleep and activity. Generally, these feelings pass, leaving me tired, but contented that I have fulfilled my drive to create. When they fail to subside, I reluctantly resort to a dose of “Mother’s little helper,” and curse my own weakness, until I fall into a medicated sleep. When I awaken, I thank heaven that I am still alive, turn-on my laptop and write.
When Kurt Cobain died in 1994, musical history became re-defined; another distorted angel had been claimed, another voice estranged. When Kurt passed, the world wondered who was to blame. The propaganda train blew smokescreens over his remains and we crowded beneath, picking-up bones of (mis)information and reassembling it into forms which suited our own particular world views. That he took his own life is all that we knew; the rest was speculation.
I was touched by Cobain’s death. However, unlike the Take That fans, who wept and wailed when their boys disbanded, I did not mourn his passing. Rather, I celebrated by buying a tee shirt on which were duplicated the words of his suicide note. I delighted in observing the bewildered expressions of older people, as they read the text on my tee shirt. I had joined an alien race, a sub-culture defined by a dead person’s face.
Kurt Cobain was the guy who put rock ‘n’ roll back into my indie sensibility. The grunge scene rendering music more accessible to the common folk than any other since the punk explosion in the 1970’s. I remember watching Matt Dillon in the film, “Singles,” and wanting not to have him, but to become him, my oversized checked shirt blowing behind me in the wind of my flatulent youthfulness. I had discovered a scene I was wanted to embrace. However, knowing no other who wanted to join me, I played, “In Utero,” and hugged myself.
In 1994, I did not realise that I shared more with Kurt than a love of music; we were both affected by a mental health issue which was to affect the way in which society perceived both of us. He had become an icon of a lost generation, I was a lost statistic of an illness, whose name I dared not speak, for fear of retribution.
Although many have questioned whether Kurt Cobain really was affected by a bipolar disorder, in my opinion the evidence is overwhelming affirmative. His much hyped struggles with alcohol and drug addiction indicate a psychopathology driven by a need for self-medication. Many studies reveal comorbidity between bipolar disorder and addictions. It is believed that Cobain’s disorder was untreated, rendering him particularly susceptible to using heroin, an opiate with anti-dysphoric qualities and, I believe, his displays of hyperthymic behaviour, provide the substance behind his attraction to alcohol.
Many addicts are affected by undiagnosed bipolar. Amy Whinehouse, another member of club 27, possibly someone whose underlying issues where, also, undermined, due to the more overt nature of her issues with addiction.
Although bipolar can kill-if untreated, it is one of the more treatable mental health issues. Once, one when surrenders to the imposition of taking tablets, for many people, life can be lived with relative ease. If you are affected by mental health issues, despair not. Salvation comes to those who truly want it and are prepared to let themselves heal.
Having completed a regular shift at a charity bookshop, I, now, feel cold and tired. The wind on the west coast of Scotland is a savage beast which can almost knock even the sturdiest of citizens off their feet and bites into the very hearts of our resilience. In the Wintertime, when the pestilence of chill and rain consumes all, but those possessed of fur coats and an iron will, it is easy to let depression strike. I shall resist; when he raises his hand, I will retaliate with blows to the keys of my laptop. I laugh within, when I consider the change in my disposition.
Twenty years wasted as a mental health service-user. Twenty years in which I experienced a side of life many either do, or wish that they did, not understand. These twenty years have taught me many lessons, some of which I would like to share.
1. Medication helps ease the symptoms of mental distress, it does not cure. Uncovering the causes of distress is hard work but, not impossible. Although psychological interventions can be useful for many people, ultimately, one has to want to recover and master the skills of mental independence.
2. Psychiatrists are as fucked-up as the rest of the human race. They have merely learned the skills of presentation.
3. Mental health workers do not REALLY care (they are doing a job, some of them very well) but can be very useful to talk to and fill-in forms!
4. Most day-centres/hospitals operate a policy of containment. They exist to monitor service-users, ensuring that we do not cross those deadly lines of demarcation. In the short-term, they can open-up the possibility of peer support. However, in the long-term, they perpetuate apathy which, is often misinterpreted to be a consequence of negative symptomology.
5. Mental health service users often flock together, like birds with tarnished wings. This is because they are socially excluded. Many have little or no family support and the companionship of friends. They do not deserve your pity or ridicule, their group friendships are indicative of a truly human (and rational) need to counteract loneliness and be accepted.
6. Recovery from mental health issues is a relative concept. If you can see the light at the end of the tunnel, you are doing okay. You do not need to be earn 100,000 a year or train to run a marathon. The book which you have always planned to write, can be written tomorrow, next year or even…never. For, even possessing the wish to write, is suggestive of the will to live. LEARN TO EXIST AND YOU WILL START TO LIVE.
I have been humbled by the support for my blog and would like to thank my followers for reading and commenting. If you have been affected by anything I have written, please contact me. I am available on facebook and twitter or you could simply subscribe to my blog. I intend to write my next post on my novel and invite you all you to learn about its themes and contents.
Discovering this week that my first novel has finally been published has elevated my spirits upon an air of equanimity. What, now that my destiny has been fulfilled, should I do next?
I shall endeavour to reinforce my belief that we all people deserve a platform for self expression. This, for some, may derive from their experience of producing a child or working for their community. For others self expression constitutes involvement in politics or the affirmation that others are listening to them. My own means of self expression has always been guided by the pen. For, even when rendered voiceless in psychiatric institutions I have managed to write. Although, the nature of my writing has, sometimes, withered under the strain of depression or hit the heights of florid over-expressiveness, it will always remain an authentic transposition of MY own psyche.
Having written a book I have challenged my debilitating sense of under-confidence and defeated the disease of lethargy, which like a cancer, has infected my ability to function, during the twenty years I have spent stoned on prescribed anti-psychotic medication. What ever the future holds I shall always write.
My novel is about the process of psychotic relapse; it depicts suffering from the inside out. Although it is not autobiographical it is informed by my own experiences and, like me, stands aside and laughs at the silly profundity of it own insights. Do not be too dismayed, I have, also, been told that it is very funny!
Out now, “THE GENERAL PARALYSIS OF SANITY,” by Louise M. Hart. Available from CHIPMUNKAPUBLISHING.