(This experience is 2 years old the next post is the most immediate. I am talking about this now as I am in hospital and I feel the illness can’t get any worse)
When the psychiatrist mentioned the term ‘existential crisis’ I tried to hide my embarrassment at not knowing what that meant. I had heard of the term ‘existentialist’ when referring to Sartre or watching ‘I Heart Huckabees’ but in no way did I think it could be described as a medical condition. If I could have slipped out my smartphone and googled it, I would have. But for the meanwhile, and to save my embarrassment, I adopted the muse pose and pretended I knew what it was. I know I am making light of the situation but my condition was critical. I had crash landed after my brief visit to Beijing and my original mild breakdown and take full-swing into a partial psychosis. Let me give a brief example of one experience.
-I’m a grown man of 47 and I’m walking through the park with tears streaming down my face. In my mind I see my brains literally boiling over into an open top skull. Even though there is a cartoon aspect to this image. It feels real like a panic attack is real. I call the emergency services believing I was going to kill myself. Immediately talking to someone calms me down and I am advised to book an appointment with the doctor. This experience is followed by a strong desire to blow my brains out but in a bizarre way I buy myself a coffee and cake and relax. My mind calms down and then I go for a walk to the sea. All is serene and beautiful. Some would say this is a kind of spiritual experience but I think it is just relief from the stress of the previous shocking images. I get to see the doctors and he prescribes me olanzapine. I have another friend who is with me and I take the medicine and then go back to my hostel and fall into a deep sleep.
While studying in North Wales I had popped into a Bi-Polar self-help group for a bit of company. Not because I was bi-polar but because I was really lonely and not so great at forging company. They invited me in and offered me tea. I listened to a woman who had been doing fine in her life until her mother and cat passed away and before she knew it, thought the CIA were following her down the drive way. I was shocked by how she was affected by one death, in normal conditions, you might say.
What I didn’t realize is that I was starting to pick up some of these problems myself. I have to stress at this point those with severe mental health difficulties such as the group with bi-polar who truly believe their delusion and my brush which was only partial because I could rationalize about the experience. I was deemed not that bad and for me the difficult aspect was being made unemployed and being on medication with no full notion of what recovery was.
Don’t get me wrong I could pop into a craft centre and create a poem about how I feel or a collage that expresses my discontentment but not a service that would say,’ take these pills for one year and then we will gradually take you off them and help you back into work. A year and a half-later I find myself still dealing with these issues and wondering who to talk to that wont say, ‘keep taking the pills’ as the only form of recovery which perpetuates the treadmill of poverty, medicine, unemployment all feeding into a greater depression and a sense hopelessness.