Dear Joe

Standard

I’ve always wondered who you imagine me to be, in your head. Because much like I know you mostly through mom and dads recaps, reading abstracts of your scientific papers and vague childhood memories combined with yearly visits with screaming children at the forefront, I know it cant be very accurate. I know from the last visit that you don’t really understand much of what’s wrong with me, or how that impacts my life, and really, I don’t either. But what has become clear is that your mental version of me has little to do with the reality of my life right now. I wonder if the same is true for me with you?

I was put on thorazine recently, because sounds became louder than they were, louder than they could be, louder than any single thing and instead a chorus of many. Colors got brighter, brighter, brighter, until the ceiling started to look pink and it got a bit unnerving.

Thorazine is an anti psychotic medication, with the benefit of being an extreme tranquilizer as a side effect. Its always hard to say how much of these things is caused by my seemingly incessant state of extreme sleep deprivation, and how much is part of a bipolar symptom. I think the general conclusion is a little bit of column a, little bit of column b.

Thorazine is the brand name. My psychiatrist only refers to it by its generic name, and im unsure if this is because its simpler or if he was hoping I wouldn’t look into a seemingly innocuous name of yet another drug I shove in my body – which, to be fair, its rather surprising I did, given my current state. But I did. Apparently it’s the first, like the literal first, anti psychotic medication ever produced. There’s whole songs written about ‘thorazine dreams’ and ‘the thorazine shuffle’ and all those good dead and drooling side effects that characterize all patients who took it for decades. This is oddly not much of a deal to me. I think, at my stage, you don’t get to think about quality of life in the same way as the average person. Yes, taking this may cause all sorts of things, but are those sorts of things worse than seeing in technicolor acid trip swirls or thinking a song played through a grocery store speaker was the universe trying to send you a message? Because I feel like there’s a tipping point that comes after that that I don’t want to see.

I’m very clearly losing my grip on interpreting my reality correctly. I am not, however, actively psychotic, because I catch myself, to an extent. Like I know the ceiling should not be pink, as I know it is not painted pink, and I can usually make that logical connection. Therefore I am in, as my doctor says, “the funky stuff”.

Possibly the most frightening realization Im having is that I can understand how delusions work now. Its not something that sort of… appears and you suddenly believe you’re Christ and think you can save the world, or whatever the fuck the stereotypical thing of delusional people is. It’s the little things.

I was at the grocery store with mom, because I live with them now, because I cant function as a human. Not sure if anyone told you that yet. My apartment remains but I don’t exist in it and the idea of it makes me a bit uneasy. But I digress. The grocery store. Mom wondered away to get lemon and left me with the cart and the task of getting yogurt. I was very… alarmed inside. My doctor calls it heightened sensory perception, which is how he explains the Technicolor and such, but I wasn’t seeing things. I was just very alarmed, and suddenly very, very frightened. And I tried to reason with myself as I pushed the cart the 10 feet to the yogurt section, my fingers gripped around the cart handle, but people were in the way and I couldn’t get there and the fear just escalated so quickly. And I know you think I mean anxiety, but I don’t. I mean pure fear. Like falling out of a ten-story window accidentally.

Then suddenly I hear the store radio start playing a Billy Joel song. One of the ones mom used to play in the kitchen while we (well, I) was little. It was like a tidal wave of comfort. I felt for sure the universe was trying to provide me comfort. To take the fear away from me, personally, that this event was someone meaningful beyond mere coincidence. Part way through the song mom showed up and I was following along behind her sort of half mumbling the words to the song, catching my breath, basking in the sweet relief. She had no idea any of this happened. The song changed to something I didn’t know, and I swear to god I felt like the universe had abandoned me. Hit like a ton of bricks. Mom asks if I need to go outside but I tell her I just need to stay by her now, and she continues about her shopping while I snap back into reality enough to realize what the fuck was happening and how my brain was rebelling against logic without me. She doesn’t know any of that happened. I took an abnormally long time trying to pick a breakfast cereal. My eyes were probably really wide and I probably talked sporadically, but I don’t think shed have noticed much at all.

And isn’t that scary? That you don’t notice?

But the scary part for me is that I can see the logical connection to those feelings and normal rational feelings I would have had in that situation if I were just, say, anxious. Music is one of my calming tools it is what I do to distract myself from my other senses or to cheer myself up. That song making me feel better wasn’t illogical. But it didn’t make sense.

That’s now a thing I haven’t to consider more than I really know how. Over or under pathologizing behaviour isn’t very helpful but believing the universe is speaking to you isn’t exactly a symptom you can let slide, when you’re able to recognize it as a symptom.

So I take thorazine. It makes me sleep, so the sleep deprivation is gone, but the “funky stuff” still lingers so the dose is being increased. Although this stuff would usually be considered part of a manic episode, the fact that I’m also horribly depressed for large swaths of time indicate it’s a mixed episode. In other words, we have barely scratched the surface of the emotional well of crazy that is your sister.

I wonder how much that mental image of me has changed now. Do we know each other well enough that this is just a thing about me, or is it starting to define me, more than you want it to?