Traversing the dark to find the light
Written by Camille Beaujolie on September 14, 2017
This is a new phrase for me. I first learned of it yesterday in a group session.
I have been away. Not just physically. I have been away mentally for a while. And, while this may not seem relevant to the purposes of this site, I feel that there is much to be said about emotional wellness and sexuality.
Emotional wellness is the phrase that the peer support worker uses in lieu of mental illness. Why use a different phrase? Well, while I do have what would be correctly termed as a mental illness (okay, I have a couple of diagnoses), what I mostly struggle with is my emotional well-being. Medication can assist in that, absolutely, but there are also other things that will factor into whether I am emotionally well or not. Currently, I am not. I am working on getting back to that place, but it has required me to go further into the dark so I can see the light.
My life has been spinning out of control for several months. If I am to be completely honest, it has been over two years. I just didn’t know it. You see, I have psychosis. My brand of psychosis allows me to create incredibly vivid memories of events that have not happened in reality. I now have an understanding of what has happened and this may very well be too much information. I am recording it here anyway. Read on, if you want.
A couple of years ago, I took a medication that was supposed to assist me in quitting my substance use of nicotine (substance use is the term they prefer to addiction). The problem is, Champix is known to cause psychosis in some people. It did for me, especially since I already experience episodes of alternative reality.
I knew I was slipping when I would get up in the middle of the night and type out my dreams in real time. They were some really trippy writings. Some of my best fiction, too! But, since I had no recollection of actually writing them, I knew I had to go off the Champix. And I did.
I thought that was the end of it. I was wrong.
Although I was no longer taking the drug, it had caused a break in my reality. I just wasn’t aware of how far from reality I had travelled in those weeks.
I had memories of taking my medication. I had vivid memories of attending my psychiatrist appointments. In actuality, I had been doing neither. I have been off my medication for over 18 months.
I started imagining conversations with people. People I have not spoken with in many months. But, the memory is real.
The past couple of months, I have also been dealing with some extreme stresses (not this site or taking over the radio station … those have been a joy, even if there is a lot of work involved). Finances, medical conditions (especially vertigo), relationship stresses, celebrity suicides and family deaths. These have all been chipping away at my resolve until I finally decided that I needed to go into the hospital for some help. And that is exactly what I did last Tuesday evening. I thought it would be a voluntary committal.
While I was in Emergency talking to the social worker, a floodgate opened and I started talking about my stresses and my fears. They decided to put me on a Form 1 (72-hour psych evaluation). When that expired, I was placed on a Form 3 (which allows them to hold me for an additional 14 days). The removed the Form 3 after 3-days, but I still feel that I am not completely ready to come home full time. I believe I will know when it is the time when I am voluntarily seeking out the nurses at medication time and I attend all of the meals (I frequently forget to eat).
Today, I am home for a full day pass. I was given my morning meds in a little baggie and I remembered to take them at the appropriate time. I also made myself a small lunch. It wasn’t anything fancy, but it was enough, in my opinion.
To be honest, I feel safe in the hospital, even though some of the other patients aren’t as compliant as I am. I do get anxious when there are outbursts, but I quietly retreat to my room where I have some reading material. My concentration is improving, even if the vertigo spells are more intense because I haven’t been able to attend my physio appointments.
Why I’m sharing
As I said, this isn’t directly related to my sexuality, however, in a way it is. It is a part of who I am. The medication that I will probably have to take for the rest of my life can have a profound impact on my libido.
I may post additional writings to this blog over time … and if other people want to write about how their Emotional Wellness Struggles impact their sex lives, I will happily add their voices to the conversation.
In the meantime, I want to share a story I wrote some time ago about the struggles of being an agoraphobe:
But Life …
She sits on the edge of her bed and surveys her partially clothed body. She can do this. She knows she can. She has done it countless times before. Each time has been a struggle. They said it would become easier, but she now knew that they had lied. Each day was the same. The anxiety, the fear. Each day she did what needed to be done, but it never really becomes easier. Not really. She has built up more reasons to do it, but this part has never become easier.
Her clothes are laid out beside her. She carefully slips on a stocking, then another. She slides off the bed and pulls her skirt up over her hips. She takes one last look before she pulls her shirt over her head.
Wandering around the house, she finds things to occupy her time … to distract her from the inevitable, but these chores can wait. They will be here, awaiting her attention later. She picks up her coffee mug and rinses it in the sink.
She can do this …
Her shoes are by the door, neatly lined up. She puts on the right, then the left. Her hand reaches for the door handle. It shakes. Her hand, not the handle. Her fingers ball into a fist and she pulls it back against her stomach. She now finds herself sitting on the stairs staring at the door. One shoe falls to the floor, startling her back to the here and now. She breathes deeply and slides her foot into the shoe while propelling herself towards the door. Her determination is set. Her hand finds and twists the handle and she is outside. Outside … where the danger is. She quickly closes the door before she can retreat back into the safety on the other side. No, she can do this … she must.
She takes the first step. Her hand balls around the bannister. Five, maybe six paces to go … yes, she can do this. She takes another step and another. Soon she is at her car. So far, so good. Nothing has happened. She is fine. She can …
Slipping into the driver’s seat, she looks longingly at the house. “There is safety in there,” she whispers to herself.
Turning the key in the ignition, she listens to the engine purr into life and the radio clicks on. A song from her early years, when she didn’t have fear. Inhaling deeply, she looks into her rearview mirror and slides the gear into reverse.
“There is safety in there … but life is out here.”