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What Do You Do When You Publish Something That’s Incorrect?

July 2, 2010

Correct it.

If you’ve been following this blog, you’ll know that in the last installment I wrote about being institutionalized. If you read carefully, you know this wasn’t the first time, and you may have guessed that it wasn’t the last.

I made a mistake in my timeline, readers. That particular time, I was released after about a week and allowed to resume my life. There were extenuating circumstances, as you may recall, and the doctors took this into consideration.

I spend a lot of time thinking about this blog. It’s a puzzle to me. How do you write about psychosis? I’m not really satisfied with the solutions I’ve come up with so far. One of the problems is that writing comes from (at least in part) a more logical part of the brain. Even when inspired, the words come out in bursts and pauses as the concepts gel into images, then words, then sentences. At least that’s how it is for me.

So when thinking about times leading up to institutionalization there are consistencies about the state of mind even when the delusions change. A week without sleep causes black outs. Reality is bent, but in such a way that there is a through line to each episode. If it doesn’t pick up exactly where it left off, it is in many ways indistinguishable from the last time and the time before and the time after and the time after that. This had been happening to me to greater or lesser degrees from the age of 15, though I was first committed in my early 20s.

I begged my parents to commit me if it ever happened again at one point and they held me to my word.
“Please. This has to stop. I can’t take it. I need to be hospitalized. This isn’t helpful.” All these words came out in a bitter cascade of tears and snot.

They took the promise they made to the barely psychotic me and applied it to the point-of-no-return me. And they did it again and again and again. And I’m glad they did. There was not any other solution.

Being locked up in your mother’s house as an adult in a near catatonic state watching your mother drink coffee with her friend as they calmly talk about some diamond ring and its significance takes all kinds of sinister undertones when you think your thoughts are audible and the dryer slamming seems a suicidal gunshot in the basement. Being chased, forced home, regarded with pity, rage, remorse, resentment and love is a lot of pressure when you really need detachment and a clinical environment.

I do not blame them for taking care of me the best way they knew how, even if it was painful and frightening and frustrating. Hospitalization had been my biggest fear until being psychotic and locked up in my mom’s house became even worse. And if I think it was bad for me, I can only imagine how bad it was for them, especially my mom.

So I’m going to make a line in Part Four where truth became the truth from another time and begin from that point in Part Five. Thanks for reading and especially to those of you who comment. You help me feel there is a point to writing all this down, and that maybe I’m doing something to fight the stigma of mental illness. So thank you. Really.

12 Comments leave one →
  1. July 3, 2010 5:44 am


    Trust me. I read everything you write.

    It may take some time for me to say more than that. While I understand the value of writing it down– therapeutic and otherwise — I also know the importance of time for discernment.

    That’s where I am right now.

    With respect and admiration,


    • July 3, 2010 4:39 pm

      Thank you, Doug. You’re so smart that it’s really flattering to know that you’re reading my stuff. I feel like I’ve gotten enough distance from these events both figuratively and literally, that I’m unsure of the therapeutic value, but is suppose perspective is therapeutic, so I guess you’re right. Thanks for coming back!


      • July 12, 2010 11:26 pm


        Just read your most recent installment. Excellent.

        I must say what keeps me engaged is the quality of your story telling, your candor and your heart. The Louisville-angle helps, too. And, there’s so much mental illness and survival in my family — past and present — that I feel a bond, a kinship, with you. (My wife calls this Snobbery of the Damned.)

        I don’t, however, care whether you’re being strictly linear or fully expository. In fact, I tend to trust you more as a reader when you confess to fuzziness in your recollections. After all, nobody remembers everything AND your mental illness affects your perception of reality.

        So, write on. I’m hooked.



      • July 14, 2010 5:52 pm

        Thanks, Doug. Snobbery of the Damned – that’s just awesome. I love it. And I appreciate you telling me your thoughts here. I don’t know where this is going (the story, sort of, but how much and how to reveal things are a surprise every time), and I’m glad you’re along for the ride.

  2. Laura permalink
    July 3, 2010 4:23 pm


    What you are writing is amazing. It truly is. Being a mental health professional it is especially powerful. We learn all the symptoms and descriptors out of the book, but that is so different from what real people are experiencing everyday. So many people are afraid to about what they are going through for fear of judgement and being ostracized. When someone is able to share (like you are doing) it makes it easier for those others living with mental illness to be able to open with their friends and family and get the help they need.

    With your permission I would love to share your writing with some of my clients and their families.

    On a more personal note. You are an amazing woman and I am so proud to be able to call you my friend.


    • July 3, 2010 4:44 pm

      Laura –

      That really means a lot to me. You don’t have to ask. If this is for anyone besides myself it is for those who are affected by mental illness – those struggling with it themselves, their families and those who do the frustrating work of trying to help people who are often incapable or unable to accept it. I know I’m lucky. And I’m lucky also to have a friend like you who’s out there fighting the good fight every day.

  3. July 3, 2010 8:05 pm

    I think this right here is part 5. Same straight-up honesty as in the main narrative.

    • July 6, 2010 9:15 am

      Thanks, Hal.

    • July 12, 2010 12:33 am

      Co-signed. It’s just the next bit of the narrative. It stands in order perfectly. Why not take the chance to be honest about the fragility of memory and recall.

      • July 12, 2010 9:52 pm

        It’s my goal to put a cohesive narrative out there. If I really start getting into the delusion side of it – which is my hope – to be able to go there (but not only is is problematic for accuracy’s sake, but it’s a scary thing to dwell on and elusive), then it can get looser. I can make sloppy brush strokes, then, and maybe leave them that way. I see what you’re saying, but I also want to keep it tight and linear because that’s the point of this one. Our visions of these things change, though. Thanks for helping me keep an open mind.

  4. Sarah Loving permalink
    July 5, 2010 9:24 pm

    This is an honor to read. The description is both immediate and visceral. It’s impressive how you can both describe your experience and feelings and then zoom back to show the setting from different perspectives, through describing what people do and say and through the daily routine.

    Seeing how you are restrained and controlled in this clinical space (though ostensibly “for your own good”) is an infuriating and illuminating window into how “patients” are thought of and treated. The lack of humanity – not to mention common sense (thinking robes vs shoelaces here) – is palpable.

    I too, with your permission, would like to share this with a friend who works to improve gov’t policy wrt in-patient facilities. She is a passionate advocate for more patient autonomy and patients’ rights – I think this blog would be immensely helpful in her process of drafting recommendations.

    Additionally, with respect to “truth” or “timeline,” I like your solution. I don’t think it has to be linear to be “more true,” it is the act of looking at an issue from every possible side that gets us closer to it – whether that’s a fast forward or a rewind.

    Thank you so much for sharing this.


    ps As an aside, I nearly peed myself over the Dick Army piece. You are so effin’ talented 🙂

    • July 6, 2010 9:15 am

      Damn! I’m not sure I deserve all that, but thank you. Share it with anyone you like, Sarah. That’s what it’s there for. Talk to you soon.

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