Tuesday, September 08, 2009

In my mind I'm going to Carolina.....

I sing when I'm driving sometimes. I guess a lot of people do this. Recently, I was listening to some James Taylor tunes. The song "Carolina in My Mind" reminds me of a time, five years ago, at my worst point of unmedicated hell, in a hospital, where my mom had given me a James Taylor CD with this song. I roamed the large living area of the ward listening, with those headphones that I cherished by that time for the horrific voices that music was able to drown out. I was hearing things all the time then, whenever someone spoke, I heard two or three or four statements coming out of their mouths, at the same time. It was hard to drown out that kind of noise, to make my brain calm down, to develop a space of calmness inside myself. I used James Taylor to do that.

It wasn't that I was a big fan of James Taylor. It was that those words "I'm going to Carolina in my mind," meant something significant to me. I was trying to escape the nightmare of my life. I wanted so badly to get out of my own head. I was terrified that I was being drugged with poisons as I was locked in this public mental hospital which is a horrid place to ever have to go to. And so now, five years down the road, when I'm having a hard time, I'll sing inside, "I'm going to Carolina in my mind...."

"Mexico" is another song on that cd. My roommate, Prudence, loved "Mexico". I'd share my CD player so she could listen to it. She was Schizoaffective and also incredibly intelligent and creative. We became fast friends. I still have a journal from that time with entries she made in it. We stayed in touch for some months later, but not after that. She went back to Washington D.C. to marry some guy who she had been having an affair with. She had very drastic mood changes. The last time I saw her, she wore a wig, because in a manic rage she had shaved her head bald. She taught me how to say, "Don't let the bastards get you down," in Latin. Her dad was a lawyer. He cut her out of his life because of her mental illness.

It's funny how songs can bring you back to another time and place where you listened to them before. I was very lucky to be in that particular hospital ward, because I was one of a few who were able to keep CD players - wires and all - with us, in order to distract ourselves from the voices. This is a rare gem of a treat in a mental hospital, where cords of any kind are usually considered contraband and never allowed.
But at the SRT unit, we were able to keep our music. One young woman walked in circles singing loudly with her headphones on, all the time. It was annoying, as she couldn't carry a tune, but we all got used to it.

The other day someone said, "Hello," and I heard the "Holo" as in "Holocaust" which I used to always hear when a person said "hello". This is how my brain works. I have special meanings attached to some words due to delusional thoughts. I have been at a point for a few months where I rarely hear them, though I still hear them on a regular basis - enough to notice them, enough to get worried about them.

When people say, "Gotcha", I think they're talking about beating me at something, or catching me in a lie, and that they really did "get me". I think they're talking about the concentration camps that my mind conjures up.

When people say, "You're welcome," I hear "You'll walk home." This is a reference to the future days when people will be forced to walk to concentration camps. There is a long trail in Florida that is used for exercise. I thought for years that this trail was there for people to walk to the camps. Sometimes, since I still hear the phrase, for a brief moment, I still believe the delusion. It sits there, caught in the air above my head, waiting for me to catch it and keep it, or to leave it alone and let it go. I choose to let it go most of the time.

My Risperdal injections do work for me. I am better than I was for many years. But I think, since I rarely ever talk to anyone about these symptoms, people assume I never have this kind of problem now. Or people - those I work with, for example - do not even know I have the illness in the first place, so they have no idea my brain plays these tricks on me. Sometimes I just want to tell someone, "Hey, this annoying thing happened yet again. I'm scared." That's when I come here to write. And there is always James Taylor.

And there are always words to remember:


  1. Hello Jennifer,

    Thanks for visiting and following my blog. I wish I could give you some more useful posts there to follow, but I rarely post anything there. I have another blog (under a different blog name - I thought it best to keep my very secret things in a separate place) which is at:


    But it's up to you whether you follow it or not, it's more likely to have my regular posts about how my life is going up and down and my posts about family, life etc.

    Anyway, I'm not trying to advertise myself, just thinking that you might like to read it and see what you think.

    Back to what you write of here. Songs and music are so powerful and they give such an important connection to the world. I can forget the details of an event but the music associated with it will always bring back the feelings and the sense of being in that situation. It's sad when the songs remind you of bad times, but they are necessary I suppose. I'm sorry to hear of what you went through. I think it's my greatest fear, that fear of being drugged and not having any conrol. How horrible for you. I too spend a long time every day plugged in to my music. I find it's helped me so much being calm in the presence of other people. I usually get a bit panicky aroung groups of people and every noise seems aggressive to me, so blocking out all these noises really helps as these people are not usually trying to be aggressive, it's just the way I take it and if I can break the chain of events by not hearing them in the first place then it works well.

    You are so brave writing here, but I understand the compulsion to do it. I didn't have any people read my blog for a long time, but it felt good to be writing the events down, finally airing my truth in the world and actually not knowing who was or was not reading it was a good lesson in letting go of the things I've always kept bottled up.

    Anyway I could write all day. Basically I'm here to show some support and to say that I'm pretty useless really at both the regular blogging and at keeping in touch, so don't take it personally...

    Take care,
    Prudence :-)

  2. I don't hear voices all the time, but I still get episodes when I am under stress, when I do get them. I find music helps me too.

  3. You really brought back some music memories to me! I always liked James Taylor too. Something about his voice and words that are soothing! Awesome music! You are a real inspiration to me... I actually got my son to read some of your blog and he was surprised that he had some of the exact symptoms as you have had. He thought I was poisoning him with the baked beans tonight but fought that head on and realized that I would not do that. They did taste funny and we laughed and I said, if you were watching, I ate them too so that really made it false. Anyway, he is doing pretty good and using some new coping skills. It will be 3 weeks before he goes back to his therapist for some reason. I put a call in so I will find out what's up. Good post. Thanks for sharing. TTYL Janet

  4. I enjoyed your entry. While I was psychotic, the voices in my head and I would sing that song by Matchbook 20 called "I'm Not Crazy" at the top of our lungs on the way to work. "We" thought it was hysterically funny. The words are quite powerful for me still. There are many songs on the Top Ten lists through the years which clearly refer to mental illness being experienced by the person writing the song. That song is just one example. Anyway, I enjoyed your blog entry. My blog is crazymer1.wordpress.com if you want to check it out. Keep up the good work!

  5. I just wanted to say thank you to all of you who have left comments on this post, and other posts of this blog. I have to admit that, like Prudence said of herself, I do not keep up with others' blogs nearly as often as I'd like to. I really just don't have the time sometimes, and I also have a very limited attention span for reading, due to concentration problems connected to my illness (which, I hope, may possibly be resolved sometime in the future....). So if I don't stop by yours as often as you stop here, please don't take it personally!



  6. Populus tantum lucror si vos permissum lemma lucror.

  7. I would like to take the time to commend you on a job well done with this blog.

    I have finished my review of "Suicidal No More: Choosing to Live with Schizophrenia" and I'm happy to announce your blog has been added to Blogging Women.

    A big thank you for submitting your blog to our women's blog directory.


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