Mental Illness

Mental Illness

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How could this George Bakewell have become a doctor so suddenly? I wondered. He didn’t really know me, either. He just wanted to see what a girl who was crazy enough to kill herself looked like.

I turned my face to the wall.

‘Get out,’ I said. ‘Get the hell out and don’t come back.’

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here lies clarity, in a perfect grave
comprised of perfect steel, the perfect blade
was a perfect white against the perfect lines, from last perfect night
I’m the perfect picture of complacency
…and that’s all I feel
slow motion replaces real time
as the horror fills their eyes
these claws will never kill again

the lines I wear around my wrist
are there to prove that I exist

I am a monster, clothed in crimson sleeves
and perforated lines where my wrists should be

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There’s something in us that is very much attracted to madness. Everyone who looks off the edge of a tall building has felt at least a faint, morbid urge to jump. And anyone who has ever put a loaded pistol up to his head… All right, my point is this: even the most well-adjusted person is holding onto his or her sanity by a greased rope. I really believe that. The rationality circuits are shoddily built into the human animal.

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I have said that my grandfather was and had always been a mysteriarch, never a philanthropist of the mind, not a restorer of wounded psyches. In no way did he take a therapeutic approach with the inmates at the sanitarium. He did not view them as souls that were possessed, either by demons or by their own painful histories, but as beings who held a strange alliance with other orders of existence, who contained within themselves a particle of something eternal, a golden speck of magic which he thought might be enlarged. Thus, his ambition led him not to relieve his patients’ madness, but to exasperate it – to let it breathe with a life of its own. And this he did in certain ways that wholly eradicated what human qualities remained in these people.

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I’m having a sort of hard time paying attention because my automated teller has started speaking to me, sometimes actually leaving weird messages on the screen, in green lettering, like ‘Cause a Terrible Scene at Sotheby’s’ or ‘Kill the President’ or ‘Feed Me a Stray Cat,’ and I was freaked out by the park bench that followed me for six blocks last Monday evening and it too spoke to me.

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I have all the characteristics of a human being: blood, flesh, skin, hair;
but not a single, clear, identifiable emotion, except for greed and disgust.
Something horrible is happening inside of me and I don’t know why.
My nightly bloodlust has overflown into my days.
I feel lethal, on the verge of frenzy.
I think my mask of sanity is about to slip.

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It is not pleasant to experience decay, to find yourself exposed to the ravages of an almost daily rain, and to know that you are turning into something feeble, that more and more of you will blow off with the first strong wind, making you less and less. Some people accumulate more emotional rust than others. Depression starts out insipid, fogs the days into a dull color, weakens ordinary actions until their clear shapes are obscured by the effort they require, leaves you tired and bored and self-obsessed - but you can get through all that. Not happily, perhaps, but you can get through.

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I felt a kind of numbness, an enervation, but more particularly an odd fragility – as if my body had actually become frail, hypersensitive and somehow disjointed and clumsy, lacking normal coordination. And soon I was in the throes of a pervasive hypochondria.

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But I felt an immense and aching solitude. I could no longer concentrate during those afternoon hours, which for years had been my working time, and the act of writing itself, becoming more and more difficult and exhausting, stalled, then finally ceased.

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