As for “a brief piece of writing on my trajectory out of the system” I have many – though none of them are in coherent chronological form, because I am not always a coherent, chronological person.
While I never, on my own site, denied the spiritual nature of my culminate madness (at least not for very long, because when I did try to forget it or reframe it, a great sorrow and defeat would seep into my heart and yet when I speak about it honestly, I get to keep my spirit…in the feeling of energy, a pleasant somatic state, and a divine sense of hopefulness and grace.)
…I kept it quiet, in making my way into the movement and back into the walking talking realm. I had learned that most people, even mad folks, do not respond well to such claims. Keep in mind I’m not claiming anything – other than that human beings and life on earth are ancient and sacred and really beautiful and messy and weird and intense…and that many of us are sensitive to the world and the best and most treacherous of its oldest workings. However, you start talking about God and madness and people get uncomfortable. Truth is like that sometimes. They want you to get over it, package it up in some new age-y box and get on with fitting into the real world. To me, this is the real world. I can’t get over it.
I think of saints and prophets as cultural constructs, just like I think of schizophrenia as a cultural construct. Who are we to know of the secret histories of the world, what Francis was thinking alone in the woods? We have Paul’s letters, but do we know what he wrote to himself? The world is full of seekers and knowers, finders and tellers. I meet them all the time.
People are not saved because they are Christian, any more than they are saved because they are Muslim. They are saved because they are people who’ve found their way to God (by whatever name) and that changes them, holds them to a heightened awareness and offers them the perspective of the ages, which directs their lives in ways that inspire benevolence, compassion, stewardship, and justice.
This takes many forms, of course, depending on the construct in which it is expressed. Some constructs are more constraining than others and some, such as some forms of fundamentalism, miss the point entirely and actually keep the inspired from finding true God, by replacing love with fear and in their idolatry of hateful men who hold their rote knowledge of scriptures over the heads of the seekers, claiming wisdom and power but having nothing but words…written by men.
It is our time, the time of the meek and the scorned and it will unfold as it may…
…or it won’t, depending on how it is handled.
Jesus was a very wise organizer and he had charisma on his side as a gift from God.
Anyway, back to a brief writing on my trajectory out of the system. I had left psychiatry before and never really believed in it. Most of my time in systems was forced, and I never stayed much longer than I had to. I have left the system many times.
I will never go back. As the lady preacher at the Varick Chapel (an AME Zion church up the road that I showed up at a few times during my reckoning (which is a word that I use, at times, for so-called psychosis) said: “You will never be locked up again.”
It’s true. Part of all this writing I do is to pre-debunk any claim or accusation that I may be this or that I may be that. I will never be locked up again and I have ensured that if I am a mighty flood of word and proof will be considered by a great many, to the detriment of the accusations that may be made and, ultimately, in service to my cause.
Which is really only to be an awake human who is true to the best in her heart and to try somehow to do my part in saving the world from these times and these mechanics that have done so much damage.
This is a fairly reasonable cause and it is shared by many.
I don’t, as I have said, feel that I have much of a choice. I have written too much and I have made promises and it’s not like I can just call the whole thing off. It is, after all, my life.
I left the system for good when I stopped believing in it entirely, when all the ideas associated with it became invalid – like chemical imbalances and the “need” for medication. I left the system for good when I saw that the PsychoPharmaceutical Complex was associated with the Military Industrial Complex and that forced normalcy was killing and hurting a lot of people. I left the system for good when I realized that psychiatry would kill and was killing what was vital to me, my madness, my story, my light.
I have a great deal to say about the effects of antipsychotics on the human life force (of which dopamine is a component) and given that Abilify is currently the 3rd most prescribed drug in the country, I’d say that most people have been affected.
It is obvious to me, as it has been to many, that the forces which create madness and the forces which destroy madness are the forces of history, violence and healing, violence and healing.
I believe that churches, in ritual rooted in their zeal for power and authority, have excluded many wise and righteous people, the ones who really get it and ask questions and who fail to see how kissing the ring of the Pope does anything at all for God – unless, of course, the Pope is magical and somehow was able to act as a conduit between God and man. This sort of thing is possible, but I doubt that anyone who yields such big-hatted ego and hoarded riches would be able to really tap into the God field. Then again, maybe that hat is magic, constructed just so to sit so high and to hold so many blessed treasures?
It would be easy to say that I don’t know when it started. It is just as easy, however, to say that I do.
I was born mad. I know that whatever is in me has always been in me. It IS me. I remember things in pictures and feeling and I know I’ve always been this way.
For a long time, I tried not to think too hard about the world. I took pills that made me cry and pills that made me not cry. I swallowed numbness, whole and bitter. It caught in my throat.
I went and stood in the basement hall at university, watching the old seismograph make lines that nobody bothered to watch anymore and I waited for the earth to make some move.
On the morning I left to return to the 9th grade at boarding school, I watched the sunrise over the river and I took a picture of the clouds and the reflected sky in the brackish water at the bank, earth and heaven, caught in a small piece of south Georgia.
I’ve always met kin, people whose hearts seem to recognize my own and who seem to understand something beautiful about me or in whom I see something beautiful. Most folks have a light. I can see it and they can feel that I see it and so they love me and I love them.
This isn’t exactly complicated, nor is it some great trick I’ve learned. I’ve always been like this. People have always commented on it. I’ve always found friends in strangers and I’ve always been a letter writer, a gleaner of clues, a leaver of trails.
I threw bottles into the river, packed with notes and a very high hope that somehow they’d drift somewhere and be found by someone who would, for a minute, feel that maybe the world was awesome and magical. I was about 8 when I did this, writing out the notes carefully and packing them with great precision.
I threw coins into the low-tide banks, loved the sound they made as they cut into the soft underwater earth, to disappear and to be found a 100,000 years later.
The land I grew up on was Native American land, as was all this land. There were oyster shells left in the banks of the river long after oysters ceased to bed in those waters.
Growing up where the river meets the ocean one learns very young about delicacy and force, storms and tides, salt and rain.
Where I was raised and who raised me has everything to do with who I am. My great-grandparents moved to south Georgia in the 1940s, due to a “nervous condition” that impaired my great-grandfather’s ability to live near the city anymore.
This condition, which later led to suicide that nobody ever talks about, was mentioned in the 1913, in letters to my favorite dead uncle, who ran away to Florida to escape The Peacock Academy, an elite military preparatory school in Texas that Judge Beck, his father, had been intending to send him to. This decision was made in response to drawings on the topic of corruption in the state of Georgia and the US in general, including one that portrays Liberty in female form being hung by a sash bearing the words, “Georgia State Laws.” My uncle wanted to be an architect. His father pleaded with him to come home and to stop disgracing the family. His sister wrote of his brother-in-law “getting nervous again.”
Judge Beck was a State Supreme Court Judge. His picture is in the building with the golden dome in Atlanta, at least it was. I saw it once, when I was a kid. I don’t think that was a dream. He was also a leader in the Georgia Klan. The old papers were in the closet of my deceased grandmother’s girlhood room, Klan flyers and old letters.
My father still has the letters. I don’t know what became of the flyers.
Last night, I took flyers for our local radical mental health gathering to a meeting with some state-level Peer advocates in North Carolina, where I first saw mountains and came back to live after my daughter was born. I walked into the meeting and I knew my skirt was too short. I was wearing what I think of as my Winter Spy Hat, an Afghan style hat that sits on my head like a furry bucket and gives me an oddly cosmopolitan or anachronistic look. I wanted to speak with them about organizing in NC and about peer respite and education.
I listened to them talk about the four cop cars that came for the man who put his couch on the roof of his trailer. “Did the aliens tell him to?” The advocate laughed.
“What’s so wrong with a couch on the roof?” I thought. True, it was winter and cold. However, the stars are amazing in the winter and sometimes madness pulls us places and keeps us warm while we work out our thoughts and try to stay alive.
This afternoon, I watched the sky for a little while and there was a glare that made my eyes water. There were a few dull swoops, a suggestive angle or two, but I felt weary. Lately, I have missed my profound state of madness, when everything seemed so, um…profound.
I lived in the midst of a miraculous profundity for over 18 months, more mad than not mad, but still not too terribly mad, because I always kept one eye on consensus reality and my distance from it.
In the midst, two years ago, I was required to take risperidone and Depakote and I was allowed to take lorazepam, to combat the anxiety caused by the risperidone. My hair was falling out. I bled irregularly and had terrible vertigo. On December 26th, I will celebrate the two year anniversary of the day that I felt the chill of death and spent the day in a terrified and ½ catatonic state, shuddering and grimacing in front of the smoky stove.
It was snowing endlessly that winter. My children were away from me. I could not see my parents without feeling a seering and overpowering grief and rage over what they had done. I sat at the bus stop some nights, praying for someone to please just come and get me, sending out my strongest distress signal. Nobody ever came, though a lot of white SUVs drove by.
I had tried to join the Illuminati in November, after realizing that I didn’t really know anything about them and doing a quick search and coming up with a supposed Illuminati site that outlined their intent for a New World Order. It was a very modest website, with only an info. address. Though I doubted that any actual secret society wouldn’t have a public website, no matter how minimal, I was intrigued by the stated intent. No Wars. There were some issues with some of the NWO goals, such as the one that outlawed abortions, but I liked the part about No War.
Now that I’m a little more savvy, I think that it may have been an ironic lulz site, put up by bored computer nerds with a wry sense of humor. Oh! That makes me laugh! Especially since I wrote the address and made all sorts of earnest appeals to assist in the use of culture and message manipulation to undermine the fascist core of modern systems, the ideas upon which they are built. I was also very earnest about the problems I was having with my family and my mental health shenanigan. A fifteen year old from Serbia was the one who wrote back to me. He professed membership in the Young Freemasons and was very kind and smart for a kid. He was one of my only supports that winter. I wrote, “Hey, kid…” and he wrote, “You’re are learning. Get on horse.” His English was imprecise.
My other support through that wrecked time was a penpal on NC’s Death Row. I need to write that guy a letter. I can’t stand that he calls me “baby girl” and sometimes says that I sound “like a white woman.”
On the snowiest days of that winter, the starlings would come and sit in the trees, making them black and squawking with the snow knocked off the branches. I thought of them as friends, but I was never quite sure.
The way I figured it, maybe the beginnings of the Illuminati were people that, like me, had seen triangles in the sky and felt a benevolent sense split out of their bones. I thought maybe the group had, like so many well-intended groups, simply grown corrupt, been co-opted, gotten misrepresented. I thought that there may be people amongst them that wanted to restore the integrity of the enlightened. I don’t think I ever got into the Illuminati, but in my thinking about the “real illuminati” – it’s not as if you have to fill out forms and pay dues to know the score.
As part of my response to the threats to my custodial rights, in 2009, I paid for a psychological assessment. It was then that I remembered the day they told my mother that I was a genius. I was 12 and grieving the loss of the land and my really unfortunate perm and the ugly new shopping centers that were gobbling up the woods at the side of the road. When I was very young, I would sit in the backseat and stare out the car window as we were going wherever we were going. The woods always looked deep and still and shady. I used to imagine how easy it would be to disappear into them, in spite of the Posted signs that were tacked to the trees themselves. I was always thinking in terms of adventure stories.
In my real life story, I read the results of the psych eval and something began to make sense to me. “Oh? My brain works differently? I’m really smart? What? This affects the way I process information and…huh? I’m not that smart? Oh, I’m smarter in one part of my brain than in the others. Hmmm, that’s weird. 2.6% percent, huh? That’s my percentile.” In some areas, I am the 1% and in some I am the .01%.
Shouldn’t someone care about this?
I am not as smart as I was in 2009. It has been a difficult three years. I incurred quite a bit of psychiatric trauma during my last period of forced treatment. After the police came and woke me up with a paper in their hand and I laughed, saying, “Oh, this.” I understood exactly what was happening. I was getting taken down and taken down hard. “Could you please sit down, ma’am?” The officers had me sit on the kitchen floor. They kept one eye on the knives. “Could you put your hands behind your back please?”
I rolled my eyes, “Oh, yeah, right. I’m ‘psychotic.’” I had heard the word the other night, when the children’s father was on the phone with my father, “Come and get your daughter, she’s psychotic.” I was calmly saying, “Please, it doesn’t have to be this way.”
I asked the police, “Can I at least have a cigarette first?”
They hurried me and then put me in handcuffs, walked me out to the street, past my neighbors’ house. Two squad cars were parked there. I felt a little humiliated, but by that time, I was used to humiliation and it all just seemed dimly absurd and insulting.
Later, I asked the nurse if I could put my bra on, since the disposable shirt that I had to wear was see-thru. I felt self-conscious and cold. She said no and when I tried to explain why I wasn’t a suicide risk, that I wasn’t going to try to hang myself with my bra, she order me to have a shot of Haldol, which was administered by two male nurse’s assistants, who pulled my pants down.
At four o’ clock in the morning, I was woken up by a social worker, there to assess me. I could barely think straight. I didn’t really understand why it was taking me so long to get out of there. I didn’t want to be there. The children’s father worked there. Some of the people knew me. They knew who I was and I couldn’t wear a bra and they were pulling my pants down. I tried to explain to the social worker that there had been a misunderstanding, that I understood that there were some misunderstandings. On my chat, they noted that I smelled of body odor, the smell of fear and sweat. “Patient is clearly psychotic.”
In intensive outpatient, I was told that my chemicals were “out of balance.” It didn’t seem exactly plausible to me. I mean, my life was crumbling around me and I had just plowed my way through some sort of protracted interlude with divine sense and spirit and everybody was being ugly to me. I couldn’t see my kids. I hated what had been made of me and my life. That didn’t seem like a chemical disorder to me. I was anxious and emotionally unstable, for good cause. The medication was not helping. It made me not able to believe in anything. I still believed, but for a few months I didn’t feel much of anything except a sincere wish to die. I had felt that way before, on and off for years. I spent some afternoons lying motionless for hours, willing myself to die, begging God to stop my heart, finally falling asleep with one eye open.
In January of 2012, I stopped writing for 6 months. This is most of my last post:
This really irks me. Stupid kundalini crisis. All the signs were there. I am an ordinary person who went through an ordinary experience…except all the devices of drama bungled it terribly and instead of trying to simply accept that I was shedding the onion skins, waking up in some totally human way…well, I tried to explain it, tried to frame it, and – being the resourceful idiot that I am – tried to do something with it…because I feel guilty if I let things go to waste…I felt like the whole world was beautiful again…beautiful like it hadn’t been beautiful since I was nine years old.
I believed so strongly in goodness and possibility…I must have seemed insane.
I hid my blog and struggled my way into a job as a Peer, signed up for a couple of terrible psychology classes from an online university. I wrote a few letters, apologizing to some people I had written at the height of my certainty that I had unlocked some code, learned some new language to speak and understand with a spoken word. I believed that I could call clouds and then I stopped believing that. I have, it is worth noting, gone back to believing that, because it is a wonderful thing to believe, that the sky loves you and makes pictures for you.
It wasn’t until I met a kid with a white violin from California on the Icarus boards, discussing a possible zine exchange. We started writing letters and had well over a hundred single spaced pages written in the month before he rode a bus cross-country to spend the summer with me, to get off meds and talking about time travelers and gods and philosophy, smoke cigarettes, kiss and laugh at the playing cards scattered like tarot all around the house.
I had just signed over legal custody of my children, to end the battle, but they spend ½ their time with me.
I didn’t care that my family might be concerned if I invited someone from California to come stay in the spare room for a while. In our planning for his visit, we made sure to shut our frontal lobes down, to stop worrying, to picture everything working out beautifully and nobody hassling us because we weren’t doing anything wrong. I told my family, “I need this person to come and visit and it’s my home and I need…I need some kind of friend. I need someone who I can be myself around.” The day before he arrived the children and I scattered 30+ bright blue paper cranes around the hill where I had made my promises.
He left after Occupy started in the Fall and I was consumed by the revolution that I had prefigured in my mind in writing about The Big Comeuppance and I was entranced by the people it brought to the park.
I approached the woman by the fountain because I had grown accustomed to speaking to strangers who appeared to be waiting for someone to speak with them.
“Why did you come over here?” The woman said.
“It’s just something I do. It felt like I should.” I had no interest in lying.
We talked. She asked, “Do you really think you can change the world?”
I said, “Yes.”
When she decided that she was finished talking with me, she offered me a hug and pressed down on my sacrum, the small of my back. It didn’t alarm me. I knew that something needed healing or adjustment there. One night, the burning had been so deep that I had pressed a crochet hook into my bones, trying to get at the bees that were buzzing there, at the base of my spine.
Last Spring, I saw the woman in a grocery store parking. I was getting cat food and two single beers, that I would drink with a floundering artist with a drinking problem that I would never see again because he touched my hair without asking.
Tonight, I spoke with a mad kin friend that I am just getting to know a little, “So, in my culminate madness, I realized that this Big Everything, this God or whatever…well, I realized that some people might be attuned to ecosystemic consciousness and might have a sort of direct line to the old stories in the universe…and the thing is that I wasn’t just sitting there are thinking about this. I was documenting and I was feeling and I was having visions and taking notes. I don’t just want to destroy the medical model of psychiatry, I want to destroy the military industrial complex. I want justice for the people who’ve been hurt, they need to…they need to…”
“They need to lift the veil.” The woman interrupted and we smiled.
“I really do think conversations like this are important.”
Some people just have a certain timelessness. When we speak together, it sometimes seems we are being spoken through.
To be clear, I didn’t just have a so-called messianic experience – I lived in a culminate messianic experience for many months, when I was consistently aware of the divine unity and meaning of all things and was pulled to study the sky for hours and hours each day.
I had to quit my job. I could speak to no one about it.
I understood that my whole life had been leading to those months and things I hadn’t thought of in years became important parts of the story and I understood that I had been pulled for many years and that for many years I had turned from knowing and that all of my troubles came in my denial of what I saw in the world and what I knew in my heart.
I had edged into a madness of great meaning several times before, though the process had been aborted by crisis and confusion.
I saw it through in 2009-present and rebounded from the associated crisis stronger and more wise, with still no doubt in my mind of the workings of God in the world and in my life.
It wasn’t just like I was sitting out here and thinking about these things. I was standing with my face to the sky and I was weeping and I was laughing and the sense of God was ringing in my head in word and phrase and sudden great knowing.
My body was affected. I had bruises and strange pains. My hair turned red, my eyes caught green. The radio cued me to small messages. I believed that God was communicating with me in every song.
I saw faces in the clouds, eyes and triangles and torsos. I watched the shapes of tears roll down a woman’s face and I knew that I had been chosen for something and I knew what I had been chosen for and God affirmed all that was bright in my heart and made it solidly golden.
God felt my light and my pain and I felt the good of the world and the pain of the world. I howled in my healing.
I never felt more loved than when the sky was full of whales. When I did well and kept an open heart, God would make playful shapes for me, animals and little jokes told through the clouds.
WI laughed out loud, alone on my porch.
Messengers came in the form of cardinals and strangers, small signs, a dropped tone and moment of contact. My palms become electric, humming and thrumming. I learned how to heal deep wounds with a voice and a look.
I saw hands reaching down from the heavens and great herds of animals. I saw letters and I understood that these were the shapes upon which the world had been written.
All of this is in my public archives.
How can you even ask if I had had a messianic experience? I was so certain of God’s intervention and showing of its workings to me that I tried to show others, because that is what I was called to do.
God trusted me to pay attention and I did and I was shown – again and again – the faces of all eternal and I didn’t lose my mind when I looked into those eyes in the sky. Instead, I took pictures, because I wanted people to believe me.
The story of the world was shown to me in clouds and in the branches of trees and as I watched I understood. I wrote a letter to St.-Paul’s-Outside-The-Walls. “Today, the trees leading into this town were lit in gold and I saw all of every God’s kingdom held in their branches and I am sad that nobody will see these things.”
A great dam broke within me and the words came tumbling into my head and my hands shook and my heart expanded.
I came back to life.
I stood on the top of a hill and I held my fist to the sky as the dark clouds rolled in, dense and writhing. “Thy will be done,” I spoke with my voice deep and caught in the force of my conviction.
I wrote the Arabic word for peace in the dirt with a stick, facing east. I let the rain fall.
On the way home, a sheriff’s car followed me. I thought maybe they were looking out for me, because I was sure that people were looking out for me. In retrospect, it was more likely that the police had been called because there was a crazy lady hollering at the sky up by the cellular towers.
I do have your book and I have read the chapter and I get it. I really, really do. That’s what I keep telling you.
How am I supposed to convey this to people if even you keep questioning me?
Have you not read my letters?
Have you not seen my writing, the pictures I drew?
Am I not using the right words, am I not telling it like you think it ought to be told? I tell it as I am inspired to tell it. God as I experienced it is NOT the anglocentric God of old books. God has a sense of humor and is a brilliant surrealist. God is full of animals and weird weather and alchemy. The real God is what all Gods are an interpreted version of.
I explained this. When particular workings are at work in the world, the earth and heavens show themselves in certain ways. Some people, as part of our role and our species, are called to see and to tell. Given geographic isolation and the attributes of culture and time, the same stories have been told in many different ways. Depending on who was watching, some shapes were deemed important and these became the written word. Depending on who was telling, some stories got misinterpreted. However, they knew to watch, because they felt it and they knew to speak, because that is what we do. We’re storytellers.
I need to stop writing and watch the sky.
How much evidence do you need? I wrote the truth and I explained why I figured it to be true and, I’m sorry, but the fact is that I likely had one of the most oddball mad-legit, out-of-left-field holy experiences of the modern times and NOBODY CARES.
Now, what does that mean?