On this day in my history, I was hospitalized for a psychotic break. I didn't know it at the time; I thought I was going to a birthday party rather than the ICU of a psychiatric care center.
Today's five-year, post-breakdown anniversary is a bittersweet reminder. I celebrate the absence of a re-occurrence, but recall vividly the horror of the injury.
The name of that disease, its category of illness, and the shame of it all felt like more than I could accept in the spring of 2010. I certainly didn't feel I would ever be right or normal.
However with medical treatment and a loving support system, I did learn I could be healthy and most importantly happy, genuinely happy even with a feared and disrespected illness as part of my whole.
I came to realize the man-made construct of control can be destroyed through a force outside of oneself. The savings account, the physical ability to work, the false sense of security.
I also learned how to rebuild with a more solid foundation.
I do not feel stronger for having survived. I am weaker — more timid, more hesitant, more fearful. I literally have come to accept I am, in fact, not strong enough to live without the help of medical treatment. I have learned I am not strong enough to live without love and support, which I both give and receive.
A sense of gratitude did emerge from the rubble. I thank God for each day I am able to wake up symptom free. I appreciate my family, my friends, and my vocation as a writer. I am indebted for the men and women who came before me to study,understand, and treat mental illness so those afflicted can live with health. I learned to see the beauty of nature, and through this I recognize the evidence of divinity.
The title of my book, "Stress Fracture: A Memoir of Psychosis" speaks to the temporary nature of psychosis, a fracture, something that can be repaired. A stress fracture — differing from other bone fractures — results from repeated pressure put on a bone, which over time causes a break. Psychosis can be like that; the repeated pressure of living with an untreated or mistreated mental illness forces a fissure in sanity.
The book was shared so others can recognize many of the symptoms of a chronic mental illness can heal. People with mental illness can live well and enjoy the view from a place of a healthy mind, body, and soul.
Happy spring; happy new life. For my Catholic friends, on Easter Sunday sing those Alleluias jubilantly.