Tuesday, April 27, 2010

grand theft auto and swimming in the sea

Last night, on the way to have dinner with my mother, my sister, who was driving (she is living with me at the moment), pointed at the Mantrap in the shopping center we were entering, my sister and remembered that I used to go there to get my hair cut, some years back. "The last time I went there", I said, "I almost stole the hairdresser's car."

"What?!" my sister asked, "you're telling me you stole another car? This is like the fifth or sixth time I've heard one of these stories." "No, I did not steal it," I explained. "I attempted to take it, because I thought I was supposed to do so, and so I took her car keys. Then I gave them back after she noticed they were missing, and I ran out the door."

Obviously, my sister wanted to know what happend after that. Well, after that I spent some hours running around the parking lot hiding behind cars because I thought the police and the FBI were coming to get me in a car or a helicopter. "But this was five years ago", I explain. "It's no big deal."

It's funny to recall some of these episodes now. In a way, I think it is kind of therapeutic to talk about those times, once in a while. I have so often kept everything close to my chest, and did not tell people about my perceptual problems or bizarre experiences because of fear. But by not talking about it, the fear actually increases, because of the perpetuating of the secrecy which makes the memory a great, looming figure in my mind. To tell someone is to lessen that fear. And so I do, sometimes.

Yes, there were actually five cars altogether. Three that I actually took. One I attempted to take. One where I took the keys and gave them back and ran out the door
of the hair salon. Of the ones I did take, one was my mom's and I totaled it on top of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge by trying to drive off the bridge at top speed. (But, no need to go into that as I've talked about it before enough times.) My brother's car was another one, and I only took that for about a half an hour - on the day I was released from a hospital whilst being totally psychotic and being sent to live in an Assisted Living Facility. 2005, that was. The other car I took, well, that was the Jesus car. The reason I knew I was supposed to take it was that I was Jesus, and the thoughts that penetrated my brain without mercy told me that it was my car, named after me, Christ. Yes, it was a Chrysler. It was old and beat up, but it had my name all over it, so to speak. They thoughts told me more bad things would happen if I didn't claim my reward. The keys were actually in the ignition. I thought it was what I was supposed to do. And so, I did it.

Luckily for me, I never ended up in jail or prison. Many people who live with mental illnesses are not so lucky, including some I know very well.

Today, I am free of the belief that I'm Jesus. I know I don't have to go steal a car any time soon. I actually own a car, and I would never want to drive a Chrysler. I'm a Toyota gal.

Last week, for my marine biology class, I went out snorkeling and exploring an island. Swimming around the wreckage of the cement parts of an old sunken fort from the Spanish American Civil War, I felt so free. Carefree, and freely able to swish and splash freely. I swam through a school of fish, watched a True Tulip Snail carry it's shell across the soft bottom of the Gulf of Mexico, and searched
for additions to my collection of items needed for my class presentation this week. I hadn't been swimming before that in years. Well, one year. I hadn't been snorkeling in years. And it was fun. It was a relief to be able to physically do that which, for some of my life, I really couldn't do, because my fatigue, weakness and muscle pain were so bad, or because I was afraid to be seen in a bathing suit. I'm overweight now. But I'm not totally afraid to be seen in a bathing suit, for life is too short to worry extensively about things lke that. My body can do what I need it to do, and that is enough.

On Egmont Key, the island where we were exploring, I walked down the sand pathway from the beach to the old, barren forts from the Spanish American Civil War days, where there stand small placards about the history of the place. I had special memories of that location. When I was a kid, we had a boat and my dad would take us out to that island, and I'd go exploring it by myself. I remember when I thought I was the first person to discover that fort, and how much I wanted to live there, on a deserted island, like Swiss Family Robinson. I remember how much fun that was, lying in the crisp sun, eating grapes, or drinking a soda, swimming, building sand castels, collecting shells and sand dollars and whatnot. I had no intrusive thoughts then. I never thought I was anybody other than myself, Jenny. I never thought about killing myself or had any problem with depression. Imagine that. I never saw or heard things that other people did not hear or see. I was healthy. And yeah, I hate this word, but I was "normal".

Walking through those forts and swimming around that island last week, I felt truly free from the person who was tormented by her mind all the time for many recent years, and connected once again with the girl in me who never had to take medication. And it was a nice time.


  1. An amazing post full of contrasting emotion and imagery. You always inspire me and this post is no different! Your beach day sounds gorgeous x

  2. I agree that it helps to talk about our past struggles with mental illness; the things we might have did or said that now make us cringe. I have a few close people that I trust, and I tell them as much as I can. Then of course there is blogging :) It is great that you were able to take a trip and have such a good time.

  3. Jen...this was such an awesome post...thanks for sharing your day on here...you face it all head on and I admire you more than you will ever know...thank you...janet


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