I sing when I'm driving sometimes. I guess a lot of people do this. Recently, I was listening to some James Taylor tunes. The song "Carolina in My Mind" reminds me of a time, five years ago, at my worst point of unmedicated hell, in a hospital, where my mom had given me a James Taylor CD with this song. I roamed the large living area of the ward listening, with those headphones that I cherished by that time for the horrific voices that music was able to drown out. I was hearing things all the time then, whenever someone spoke, I heard two or three or four statements coming out of their mouths, at the same time. It was hard to drown out that kind of noise, to make my brain calm down, to develop a space of calmness inside myself. I used James Taylor to do that.
It wasn't that I was a big fan of James Taylor. It was that those words "I'm going to Carolina in my mind," meant something significant to me. I was trying to escape the nightmare of my life. I wanted so badly to get out of my own head. I was terrified that I was being drugged with poisons as I was locked in this public mental hospital which is a horrid place to ever have to go to. And so now, five years down the road, when I'm having a hard time, I'll sing inside, "I'm going to Carolina in my mind...."
"Mexico" is another song on that cd. My roommate, Prudence, loved "Mexico". I'd share my CD player so she could listen to it. She was Schizoaffective and also incredibly intelligent and creative. We became fast friends. I still have a journal from that time with entries she made in it. We stayed in touch for some months later, but not after that. She went back to Washington D.C. to marry some guy who she had been having an affair with. She had very drastic mood changes. The last time I saw her, she wore a wig, because in a manic rage she had shaved her head bald. She taught me how to say, "Don't let the bastards get you down," in Latin. Her dad was a lawyer. He cut her out of his life because of her mental illness.
It's funny how songs can bring you back to another time and place where you listened to them before. I was very lucky to be in that particular hospital ward, because I was one of a few who were able to keep CD players - wires and all - with us, in order to distract ourselves from the voices. This is a rare gem of a treat in a mental hospital, where cords of any kind are usually considered contraband and never allowed. But at the SRT unit, we were able to keep our music. One young woman walked in circles singing loudly with her headphones on, all the time. It was annoying, as she couldn't carry a tune, but we all got used to it.
The other day someone said, "Hello," and I heard the "Holo" as in "Holocaust" which I used to always hear when a person said "hello". This is how my brain works. I have special meanings attached to some words due to delusional thoughts. I have been at a point for a few months where I rarely hear them, though I still hear them on a regular basis - enough to notice them, enough to get worried about them.
When people say, "Gotcha", I think they're talking about beating me at something, or catching me in a lie, and that they really did "get me". I think they're talking about the concentration camps that my mind conjures up.
When people say, "You're welcome," I hear "You'll walk home." This is a reference to the future days when people will be forced to walk to concentration camps. There is a long trail in Florida that is used for exercise. I thought for years that this trail was there for people to walk to the camps. Sometimes, since I still hear the phrase, for a brief moment, I still believe the delusion. It sits there, caught in the air above my head, waiting for me to catch it and keep it, or to leave it alone and let it go. I choose to let it go most of the time.
My Risperdal injections do work for me. I am better than I was for many years. But I think, since I rarely ever talk to anyone about these symptoms, people assume I never have this kind of problem now. Or people - those I work with, for example - do not even know I have the illness in the first place, so they have no idea my brain plays these tricks on me. Sometimes I just want to tell someone, "Hey, this annoying thing happened yet again. I'm scared." That's when I come here to write. And there is always James Taylor.
And there are always words to remember: ILLEGITIMI NON CARBORUNDUM.