Chp 5

A Fantasy Bond of Love Me Knots & Self-Nurture?

July 6th 2012: 3.30am, Visa extension day today, a day when I need to go to the local immigration office and apply for a thirty day extension of my current visa. Its now two months on from my long night of soul in Laos, and another six week, forty days and forty nights euphoric psychosis is up for analysis here. My fourth unrestrained euphoric episode in the last five years, begs an ongoing question, “am I suffering from a disease like illness, a brain disease, or have I experienced a process of natural metamorphosis?” It certainly feels like a natural progression from my first flirtation with ideas of emotional development issues back in 2007, when I acted out those spontaneous heart surges, of take me where you will trance-formations.

The third time now since I came to Thailand where I have the time and space to allow these non-consensus reality, states of mind, to unfold without fearful, negative expectation. More about the negative expectation of others, than my own. A judgmental disposition which drove me away from my own culture, to one more tolerant of individual eccentricity. There has been a progression in terms of awareness, as three episodes in eighteen months have built on experience and enabled a deeper understanding. This last episode which peaked in the second week of June had far less impulse to over-excited reactions, than previous episodes and held more insightful awareness of what was happening to me. A kind of re-birth experience which has un-done the dreadful fear-terror state of my birth ordeal, with the solid assurance of all my education, which allows my left-brained cognitive logic to say, “Ok, this I can understand, I know what’s happening to me here.”

7am. ‘Sorry darling, no money for visa, what I can do,’ she tells me.

‘Don’t joke me, that’s not funny darling.’

‘I not joke you, money no good this month and I pay rent and everything yesterday.’ My eyes close involuntarily as my heart drops into my stomach, while my worst fear is actually happening here. After spending the last of my savings refurbishing a new shop location, my fears about enough money to get through this year and finish a book are realized, and I didn’t see this coming.

‘Why you not tell me before, visa expire tomorrow!’

She doesn’t reply of coarse, cannot speak about bad things, cannot say the word no, its impolite you see, it’s a Thai way of life thing, literally. Life certainly has its twists and turns here, and perhaps my self-confession in Laos about a follow my heart euphoric metamorphosis, will lead me to ruination after all. I storm upstairs, consumed by anger and a deep sense of betrayal We had a deal, I make new shop and she would fund my need to write for the rest of this year. The new shop had been too expensive of coarse, and my intended parachute fund, for a plane ticket back to Australia, got spent as well.

“Fuck! Why did I ever start this effort to try to understand my inner experience?” I tell myself, while feeling a very strong commitment to follow through in my quest to articulate it, from the inside out. “Why now!-Just when it feels like real insights are rising to conscious awareness?” I know what I have to do though and I’m anxious about the reaction, the last thing I wanted to do was ask my children for help. Determined to articulate a meaningful alternative view to their perception of their crazy father, in my need for a visible, tangible redemption.

Hi Boy's

Your father is in trouble.

I made a mistake in December and spent the last of my money, setting up a shop for my Thai partner and today when I need to extend my visa here, there is no money for its renewal. So the rest of this year, that I'd planned to finish my book, has hit a very sticky road block.

Now I have two options, either leave the country or stay in violation of the law and risk a jail term followed by deportation.

From this email I hope you will have a family discussion about what to do in response and get back to me. I am still committed to articulating the reality of mental illness/madness, and you should bare in mind that I'm even more convinced that the medical model is wrong, than I was 18 months ago.

Anyway, I'll respect whatever response you guys have to this situation, and will check for reply's throughout today & tomorrow.

All my love Dad.

I sent the email to all four boys, not sure what kind of response I’d get if any, not sure if my fearful feeling was realistic or stimulated by the visceral wound of trauma experience, that still haunts me in times of stress. Yet I am more conscious of the unconscious stimulus to my mind’s subjective perceptions, after all that reading and practiced efforts to sense Stephen Porges articulation of a hidden neural perception. Example;

“Other contributors to perception:
The features of risk in the environment do not solely drive neuroception. Afferent feedback from the viscera provides a major mediator of the accessibility of pro-social circuits associated with social engagement behaviors. For example, the polyvagal theory predicts that states of mobilization would compromise our ability to detect positive social cues. Functionally, visceral states color our perception of objects and others.” _Stephen Porges, “The Polyvagal Theory.”

As I walked away from the internet shop, memories of the last time I’d seen the boys came to mind. October 2010 and that brutal day when I’d flown into Sydney from Bangkok, still in the grip of a six week long mania. I’d flown back to Thailand seven days later, after spending three days getting over the shock of rejection, in that fantasy bond of love we call family. “Another long walk is what you need now,” I told myself as old familiar feelings of the generational cut-off reaction flooded my e-motor-vation. “Hmm! E-motor-vation, I feel more aware of it now, less prone to its blind stimulation.” All that reading, like the father of modern neuro-physiology, “The motor act is the cradle of the mind.” _Sir Charles Sherrington. Aware how anger would color any thinking I do in this current physiological state, my breakthrough in self-awareness. I decided a bit of Buddhist walking meditation was called for, to enable a practical awareness of feeling anger, its acceptance, and its steady transformation to a creative use. “Is it trauma reenactment though, that sees me end up in these emotional cut-off situations?” I couldn’t help wondering, as I walked along. Have I just built another fantasy bond of emotional attachment with this girl? Consider;

The Fantasy Bond in the Adult:
Establishing an imaginary connection with another person can become a major defense against unbearable anxiety. The illusion of connection to others is a dynamic formulation of a primitive, defensive inner world. Anxiety arises whenever this inner world is intruded upon, and especially when the fantasy bond, the imaginary connection, and one’s pseudo-independence is threatened. Anxiety aroused too, whenever there is awareness of one’s separateness and mortality. As humans, we are torn between pursuing an assertive goal-directed life, and depending on passive-dependant machinations that assure us of a fantasy bond.

How we resolve this basic conflict determines whether we have a free-flowing, changing existence or a static, rigid, defensive posture. The primary fantasy bond is the core defense underlying our resistance to change. It is the major barrier to a full, rich existence.” _Robert Firestone. “The Fantasy Bond.”

* * * * * * *

“God! Firestone’s book was the best observational description of the human condition I’d read, along with Murray Bowen‘s emotional projection insights, back when this sojourn of self-revelation first started, back in 2007.” How many times have situations like this affected an emotional cut-off reaction with former lover’s, Russian, Chinese, Hungarian, Japanese, and here I am feeling that primitive defense again. “Would I be heading for a Hotel right now, if I had money in my pocket, have I learned anything about these unconscious reactions?” “Was I ever really honest, when saying “I love you,” to hide a deeper reality of, “I need you?” “Establishing an imaginary connection with another person can become a major defense against unbearable anxiety,” ain’t that the truth, I tell myself. “The unbearable anxiety of existential isolation, when one has never felt attached to another human being on that perception level of nervous system survival need, so well articulated by the groundbreaking, polyvagal theory.”

‘Your counter-dependant you know, in your fierce independence, that is,’ a counselor friend once told me.

‘Sure! I get that intellectually, yet I just can’t seem to it give up, I don’t know how to, besides you just need to feel one-up, don’t you?’

‘Touché,’ she said with a warm smile, ‘its just a predator/prey game we play, don't you know?’

‘Beneath the mask, beneath the pretense, two sides of a dominance fence?’

‘Well its not all fluffy bunnies, positive thinking, with sugar and spice making reality ideally nice,’ she’d offered before pausing to remember.

‘Have you read Ronnie Laing’s “Knots?” She asked me, his introduction to Firestone’s book bringing that remembered conversation to mind, nearly a decade later. “The unconscious games we play, where do they begin, and when will they end, when will we see the last generation to enact these unconscious games?”

“Parents-mothers more primitively than fathers, but fathers as well-did not love us, but pretended to themselves and to us that they did. In effect, they hate us in practice and love us in theory and induce us to believe them when they define their hate as love. The consequent mystification, confusion and conflict continue to devastate marriages, families and each generation of children.

My own personal experiences of developing a fantasy bond are among the most dreary, boring, agonizing, debilitating and physically dangerous times I’ve ever lived through. Out of my own experience and those of the many sufferers from the varieties of its miserable consequences, I offer this Knot, or set of traps.” _R.D. Laing.

1. Do you love me?
2. Then believe me?

3. Believe me
4. You don’t love me.

5. You don’t love anyone
6. You are incapable of love.

7. No one loves you
8. No one could love you

9. Except me.

10. I am the only one who loves you You don’t love me
      You don’t love anyone
      No one loves you
      No one can love you

11. But don’t believe me
      Because I say so
      Or because I love you

Believe me
Its only because I love you That I say so

Search yourself
Look into the mirror and see for yourself
You will see that every word I’ve said is true

Look into your heart
Look into your heart of hearts.

You don’t love me
Don’t believe me

You know. _R.D. Laing.

The walking meditation continued as I allowed memories to come and go, thoughts about a personal transformation, that has led me from Murray Bowen’s pure gold insights, into our unconscious emotional functioning and our need for self-differentiation. Consider;

“Differentiation of Self: The emotional system is hypothesized to be part of the instinctual forces that govern automatic functions. The human is adept at explanations to emphasize that he is different from lower forms of life, and at denying his relationship with nature. The emotional system operates with predicable, knowable stimuli that govern the instinctual behavior in all forms of life. The more life is governed by the emotional system, the more it follows the coarse of all instinctual behavior, in spite of intellectualized explanations to the contrary. At higher levels of differentiation, the function of the emotional and intellectual systems are more clearly distinguishable. I used the term “undifferentiated family ego mass” to describe the emotional “stuck togetherness” in families.” _Murray Bowen.

Leading me onto the explanations of a hidden inner-world, of brain-nervous system chemical reactions, with people like Allan Schore and Stephen Porges. On to discovering a practical method of integrating this new knowledge, and practicing better self-regulation, thanks to Peter Levine’s genius. “Five years on, can I truly say that I’ve most definitely changed, that I have raised the conscious awareness of my body/brain functioning?” The question of raising conscious awareness brings another memory now;

‘Aren’t you the least bit interested in the psychology of mania?’ I'd asked the young psychology graduate, as she assessed my state of mind.

‘No, no, this is what you people do, you twist things around.’

“Hmm! Object-relations, it must be the most unfortunate term in the history of psychology, psychiatry,” I mused. “All that wary, mind reading assumption about other people’s function, because we can‘t sense others through the presence of our body?” Thoughts about my own wary, mind reading of former clients too, when I was to stuck in my head to feel a genuine depth of in the moment empathy. How many times had a person really needed to express emotion and let it out, and I just couldn’t go there with them. A clever wordsmith, offering conceptual interpretations, instead. “What’s that saying? “The older I get the more I listen to people who don’t say much?” “Am I really finding a higher level of self-differentiation here, within my body/brain-nervous systems, my emotional-intellectual functioning?”

* * * * * * *

11am. Good news, James has replied to my email with positive regard and my internally generated misperception has been hit with a reality check. All those fear toned worrisome thoughts, exposed to the light of external reality now, in a feedback response which penetrates the subjective fog of an internally generated neuroception. A living breathing example of Stephen Porges notion of this neural mechanism of environmental assessment, and a vital need to feel safe, at a core level of being? My unbalanced perception of internal/external environments meets the reality that the brain cannot tell the difference between internal and external feedback, in its constant pattern matching processes, to maintain an habitually established organism homeostasis. My life-long, oriented by distress, comfort-zone.

Flooded with relief as I read James email reply, I’m confronted with the reality of my nervous-systems unconscious negative expectations, and its creation of habitual patterns of behavior. An unconscious organization of movement away from real-life engagement, regardless of my minds positive intentions. Just like Robert Firestone observed, I’d developed a self-nurturing primary fantasy motivation, as a core defense against the unresolved terror of my birth ordeal. I can feel the need for this self nurturing fantasy too? How it stirs the metabolism and creates the vital energy needs of behavioral function, because I’d been disconnected from normal spontaneous social interactions, which regulate a healthy metabolism. Stephen Porges breakthrough discovery of an evolved “social engagement system,” never got switched on, so to speak, in my experience of birth trauma and circumstantial neglect. All that vital face-to-face unconscious communication between mother and child, never happened in my case. I remember trying to discuss it with my parents, during my youth, only to be met with the emotional cut-off reaction which maintains the generational pattern. The generational family injunction, “don’t talk about emotions, you might upset someone?”

As always, a holy appropriate song springs to mind now, holy as in those wellsprings of unconsciously divine inspiration, and creative intuition? Where do these creative geniuses get their inspiration from? “All my life’s a circle, sunrise and sundown, the moon rolls through the nighttime, till the daybreak comes around, all my life’s a circle, and I can’t tell you why.” My God! Harry Chapin! Stop singing those sad songs, they said of his early and most brilliant work. Like the hauntingly beautiful and far to real, for many people. Sniper!

“Mama, won't you nurse me?
Rain me down the sweet milk of your kindness. Mama, it's getting worse for me.
Won't you please, make me warm, and mindless?

Mama, yes you have cursed me.
I never will forgive you for your blindness. I hate you!

The wires are all humming for me.
And I can hear them coming for me.

“The wires are all humming for me, and I can here them coming, for me!” Sounds like the mind’s paranoid reality, when your really down there in a fearful avoidance of life? Those times when some of us crave the ultimate escape? Interesting too, that the “wires are all humming,” could now be seen as an unconsciously expressed metaphor, for all those neural wiring connections, that stimulate such fearful states of mind. “Humming wires deep within the un-seen reality of my brain and nervous systems?” Consider;

“Traumatized individuals generally find themselves swinging wildly and unpredictably between being numb and shut down on the one hand and being flooded by emotions, including terror and rage, on the other. These bipolar swings are often erratic and capricious. (p, 246)

Surly no one would reasonably dispute that we are the product of how our brains and bodies operate. It would be hubris to say that all our subjective experience is precisely explained by the anatomy and physiology of the brain, just as it would be absurd to believe that everything we feel and know is understandable by how the brain functions. (p, 249)

Our most primitive instincts reside at the root of the limbic system (the emotional brain), in the most ancient, no-frills portion of the brainstem. There a core of barbed neurons meanders along the brain stem. It is this archaic system that serves the functions of maintaining constancy in the internal milieu and modulating states of arousal. The primary requirement for all life is the maintenance of a stable internal environment.

The innermost and evolutionarily most primitive brain structures in the brain stem and hypothalamus are those that regulate the internal states through autonomic control of the viscera and blood vessels. This most primitive system forms the matrix upon which the remainder of the brain, as well as behavior, is elaborated. (p, 253)

The limbic system and neocortex are rooted in the primitive (visceral) brain stem and are elaborations of its function. The more complex and highly ordered cerebral cortex is an evolutionary refinement- ultimately derived from emotional and visceral functions including ingestion, digestion and elimination. One could say that the brain is a gadget evolved by the stomach to serve its purposes of securing food. (p, 253)

This organism view turns on its head the Cartesian, top-down model where the “higher” brain controls the “lower” functions of the body, such as the digestive system. Thoughts and feelings are not new and independent processes divorced from visceral activity; we feel and think with our guts.

Less flattering to our egocentrism, this “bottom up” perspective focuses on an archaic, homeostatic, survival function as the template of neural organization and consciousness. Our so-called higher thought processes, of which we have become so enamored, are servants rather than masters. (p, 254)

The eminent psychiatrist Carl G. Jung presciently recognized the need for integration of our instinctual layering through the process of psychological individuation. He believed that in the assimilation of what he called the collective unconscious, each person moves toward wholeness. Jung understood that this collective unconscious was not an abstract and symbolic notion, but rather a concrete physical/biological reality;

“This whole psychic organism corresponds exactly to the body, which, though individually varied, is in all essential features the specifically human body [and mind] which all men have. In its development and structure, it still preserves elements that connect it with the invertebrates and ultimately with the protozoa. Theoretically, it should be possible to “peel” the collective unconscious, layer by layer, until we came to the psychology of the worm, and even of the amoeba.” _C. G. Jung. (p, 257)

Trauma resolution is about the conjoined twin sisters of embodiment and awareness. This asset, even beyond its crucial role in regulating stress and healing trauma, is a master tool for personal enrichment and self-discovery. Take your body seriously enough to learn a bit more about its promptings, yet hold it lightly enough to engage it as a powerful ally in transforming intense” negative” or uncomfortable emotions, and so to experience what its like to truly embody goodness and joy. (p, 271)” (Levine, 2010)

* * * * * * *

Phew! The rush of relief and joy at my son’s positive response, sweep away vague memories of the lowest point in my life, when I really did crave the ultimate escape. The month of June in 2007 after my release from hospital where I’d been wrongly sectioned for the first time in a twenty seven year history of bipolar type 1 disorder. A descriptive diagnosis I agree with, while disagreeing with its cause and a disease process. In 2007 though I was still unaware of the natural organic process of metamorphic maturing, inherent in the organism’s need to complete nature’s program of growth and decay. Back then I was unaware that I’d just been through a natural six week cycle of metamorphosis, as I came out of the positive growth phase, only to fall into depression, due to a hidden and unseen fusion in visceral function and energy regulation, in other words, mood stimulation?

Its taken five years and an intense study effort, and self experimentation, documented as best I can. Leading to a conscious understanding of my bipolar energy cycle and its conscious misinterpretation, as positive and negative mood swings, or affective disorder. The bipolar disorder descriptive diagnosis, based on observation of behavioral responses, is accurate to a degree, yet lacks real awareness of the hidden mechanisms of stimulation. Unfortunately there is a preferred assumption that the disorder is attributable solely to a brain malfunction of chemical imbalance, with little to zero references to the body’s role, or any holistic and complex, total organism view. Further more, the mainstream view of mental illnesses like bipolar and schizophrenia seems to routinely ignore the top researchers in the field, preferring to focus on endless junior research studies, which have more to do with the livelihood of researchers than a search for empirical evidence, or real-life understanding. Voices of experience, in the people who are long-time sufferers and survivors of the mental illness experience are also routinely dismissed, as anecdotal and unreliable and lacking the holy grail of professionalism? There seems to be a taken for granted assumption, that even though mental illness is essentially about altered states of mind, which cannot be well studied using the traditional scientific method of laboratory testing, any non-laboratory evidence is invalid? Consider the views of top researchers, rarely sighted in the mainstream reporting on mental illness;

“The most primal affective-cognitive interaction in humans, and presumably other animals as well, is encapsulated in the phrases “I want” and “I don’t want.” These assertions are reflected in basic tendencies to approach or avoid various real life phenomena. When these affective systems are overtaxed or operate outside the normal range, we call the end results “psychiatric disorders.” Under-activity of certain systems may cause depression and variants of personality disorders. Over-activity can contribute to mania, paranoid schizophrenia, and anxiety, obsessive-compulsive, and post-traumatic-stress disorders (PTSDs).” (Panksepp, 1998).

“To facilitate survival in an increasingly complex and socially mediated world, a new mammalian adaptation evolved; feeling states. Feelings are never neutral; they exist along what is called a “hedonic continuum” designating affective spectrum from unpleasant to pleasant. We never feel a neutral emotion. Whereas the amoeba either reflexively retracts when poked (avoidance) or moves towards something nourishing (approach), higher animals “feel into” such movements as being either pleasurable or painful. Feelings and emotions have evolved, at least in part, to amplify the hedonic sensations of approach and avoidance.

Whether one is considering a cell, an amoeba, a rock star, a custodian, a king an astronaut or a president, without this dynamic internal stability in the face of an ever changing external environment, we would all perish. It is the brain stem, through a myriad of complex reflexes, that is “control central” responsible for the minutiae of constant adjustments that are required for the basic maintenance of life. This also includes the regulation of our basic states of arousal, wakefulness and activity. And as messy and primitive as the brain stem reticular activating system is, it does its job of preserving life magnificently (Levine, 2010).

Yet still dwelling in ignorance back in June 2007, I did fall into a depression which coincidently matched the same energy cycle of my recent, six week long mania. A phase which peaked with a long night of the soul, similar to, although far more urgent in its desire for escape, than my night in a no thrills hotel room, in Laos. After my sudden release from hospital, due its embarrassing lack of professionalism, in the eyes of a magistrate (judge), there was a rising desire to further explore my notion of an emotional development issue. Back then though, I still had no conscious awareness of the attachment dynamics involved in the reactive stimulus to my altered state experiences, and I’d only just begun to document my experience of the energy cycles, of mania and depression. So in 2007, after winning my release from hospital on April 17th, I spent the rest of that month and most of May, trying to maintain my new found state of being. I was more open to experience, more relaxed and approachable, although this new state began to wane, as my still unconscious need for secure attachment remained unmet. I was still unconscious then, of the emotional dynamics within, beneath my counter-dependant rationalizations about a new beginning. I was still to much of a thinker, with to little awareness of internal sensations, still cut-off from awareness of my body, in a mirror reflection of my lifelong cut-off from other people.

It’s the great paradox of trauma experience, as the highly charged energy of trauma exit potential, which is either discharged or needs to be held frozen, in a suppressed state. Its most visible in a “postural attitude” which is a stiff, braced muscular defense against the very sensations of being alive. I was born with it, as many are, in our unique susceptibility to Mother nature’s ultimate survival trick. Our evolved ability to feign death in a last ditch effort to survive. It’s a totally autonomous feature of our evolved nervous system, with its blind, instinctual reactivity, completely unconscious and unresponsive to the cognitive capacity which may seek to master, this innate response-ability. Hence my need to buy myself time and space here in Thailand, to study both appropriate knowledge and my own inner sensations. My work-a-day routine of normal endeavors, was always to full of natural stress reactions, to be able to find the space to explore a deeper self-awareness. Deeper self-awareness, about the reality of my birthing ordeal and its life-long effects on my psychology. Consider;

“Although most psychoanalysts believe mental life began only with infancy, there were a number of exceptions, beginning with Otto Rank's The Trauma of Birth in 1923, which began the investigation of birth anxiety derivatives in adult life and culture. After Rank, Donald Winnicott wrote in the early 1940s a paper on "Birth Memories, Birth Trauma, and Anxiety," which, however, was little noticed, since, as he said, "It is rare to find doctors who believe that the experience of birth is important to the baby, that it could have any significance in the emotional development of the individual, and that memory traces of the experience could persist and give rise to trouble even in the adult."

While still a pediatrician, Winnicott saw that newborn babies varied enormously and that prolonged labor could be traumatic to the fetus, resulting in extreme anxiety--so much so that he thought "some babies are born paranoid, by which I mean in a state of expecting persecution." He was even able to conclude that "at full term, there is already a human being in the womb, one that is capable of having experiences and of accumulating body memories and even of organizing defensive measures to deal with traumata..." "THE ORIGINS OF FETAL PSYCHOLOGY" By Lloyd DeMause.

“Hmm! I think about my own Mother now and what I've learned about Mother nature’s blind instincts, for creating life and ensuring its survival?” As usual a poignant memory brings a song to mind, and the creative genius of Harry Chapin rises from within. “Mama, won't you nurse me? Rain me down the sweet milk of your kindness. Mama, it's getting worse for me. “Won't you please, make me warm, and mindless? Mamma.” A scene from a hospital room comes to mind again; Alone, frightened and abandoned, her face a mask of tragic loss and the deep sorrow of a harsh biting reality, “what love, what empathy, what understanding?”

As I write here, almost a week after the visa distress events, I can’t help but silently sing Harry Chapin’s pure genius and sense the depth of his soul. "Sing it softly now," I tell myself, "embrace her now, your lost child, within your mind, your body and soul."

“Mama, yes you have cursed me. I never will forgive you for your blindness!" Mother nature's blind instincts for survival, as the roots of our evolved affect/emotions, cursed me? Nature's roots, suppressed and denied in our need for social harmony? Consider;

“No societies encourage or permit each individual to cry out i.e, rage or excitement, or distress or terror wherever and whenever they wish. Very early on, strict control over affect expression is instituted and such control is exerted particularly over the voice, whether used in speech or in direct affect expression. (p, 93)

If all societies suppress the free vocalization of affect, what is it that is being experienced as affect? It is what I have called backed-up affect, it can be seen in children trying to suppress laughter by swallowing a snicker, or by a stiff upper lip when trying not to cry (anti affects?) or by tightening the jaw to suppress anger. In all these cases, one is holding one’s breathe as part of the technique of suppressing the vocalization of affect. (p, 93)

We do not know what are the biological and psychological prices of such suppression of the innate affective response. It seems at the very least that substantial psychosomatic disease might be one of the prices of such systemic suppression and transformation of the innate affective responses. Further there could be a permanent elevation of blood pressure as a consequence of suppressed rage, which would have a much longer duration than an innate momentary flash of expressed anger. (p, 94)” (Tomkins 1995)

* * * * * * *

God! I wish it hadn’t taken me so long to uncover my own blindness, to discover the how and why of my bipolar affective disorder, and the reality beneath that initial, medical diagnosis, which so affected my life and wreaked havoc on my family. Memories mingle with sadness, loss and joy here, as I ponder my journey, a long, long road to redemption. For more than a decade I’ve needed to re-write my history, to search for the how and why of what happened to me, and my family. Redemption, is my motivating need to articulate the mental illness experience from within to without, and not simply give a categorized account of observable behaviors, or a sensationalist dramatization of events. Redemption, is my need to make amends for a crime I committed in my youthful inexperience, with the sanctioning of my only Daughter’s abortion. “Why do old folks adore young children?” We come to realize, that there is nothing more precious in the Universe, than her sentient child, her most immaculate creation.

Memories of Depression:

June 2007: Monday 25th, Didn't work, stopped taking the Prozac, it just made me worse. Withdrawn now, don't want to go out, see or talk to anyone. Thoughts about suicide, its all hopeless now, nothing to live for and how would the boys bury me? Reading to escape the pressure of suicidal thoughts, Anne Deveson's "Tell Me I'm Here."

Tuesday 26th, Turned the phone of, could not get out of bed. Had big job for today, but couldn't face it. If could go on a invalid pension, I'd have time to write? Thinking about suicide, how to do it. Gat a gas cylinder, have in the bathroom, ring Lifeline or James. Will I do it tonight? Checked number of Epilim pills, will they cause heart attack? Scares me, car and hose pipe is most certain way. I'll get up in the middle of the night and drive to Solander Point.

Wednesday 27th, I slept through, woke up at 6am, dam! I went to Rockdale looking to buy a gas cylinder, didn't buy one, too skitish to do the transaction, fuck it. Have stupid thoughts about taping all the windows and doors in my bedroom or the bathroom. Wait till the oxygen runs out, how fucking deluded is that! Read more to escape this constant pressure in my head. I took all the pills out and thought about taking them, but put them all in a cup on the table, right in front of me.

Thursday 28th, starting to realize I can't escape a situation I've created with my own faulty thinking. Don't want to think about ??? anymore, the suicide stuff stopped me from doing that at least. Why do I always get cut-off from love? Went out and bought some more Jack Daniels, just want to drink and sleep for a week.

Friday 29th, 2am, Fuck! I shook my head, as I woke with start. "Was that a dream or am I hallucinating here?" I closed my eyes again, Carl Jung's face, fuzzy and vague now, although the voice was a clear recollection, "do not fear, it will be so.” Dad! I look around the room half expecting to see his ghost, but I'm still all alone here. I reach for Jack Daniels, "I'll fix this shit!" I tell myself.

Later in the day I walked up to Hurstville library and got some books to read.

Old Memories of Suppression and The Affect of Misdiagnosis:

‘You will probably need to take medications for the rest of your life - At this time there is no know cure for schizophrenia,’ my first psychiatrist said in 1980. He was certainly right about a cure for schizophrenia, thirty two years later there is still no known cure for such a debilitating disorder. He was wrong about the initial diagnosis though.

‘He has schizophrenia and needs urgent treatment,’ he told my wife, some ten minutes after we’d walked into the hospital consulting room. Schizophrenia!!! It was no great surprise to us though, because I’d steamed open the referral letter the night before and read those fateful words “exhibits schizophrenia like symptoms.” Memories too, of the decade when my boys were children, the job I held down within the elevator industry, and all those hundreds of times I’d stood atop tall Sydney city buildings, with that ultimate escape an ever present urge. Memories of that Doctors referral letter, during my first manic episode, the same Doctor who’d advised my then girlfriend and I, to think twice about an abortion.

Funny! I’d asked his forgiveness for going against that advice, as he wrote “exhibits schizophrenia like symptoms.” “Was it a girl?” I ask myself now. I’m sure, just as I’m sure of my guilt in using the term “it” and supporting a decision to abort her life. “Hmm! Does she forgive me, wherever she is? Is she the angel on my shoulder, who’s kept me from that ultimate escape all these years, did she bring me a curious dream, when I needed to find new direction and redemption?” There is no absolute certainty of coarse, no objectively verifiable reality, only belief, faith and trust in a heartfelt direction.

He looks at the city where no one had known him.
He looks at the sky where no one looks down.
He looks at his life and what it has shown him.
He looks for his shadow, it cannot be found.

Oh! What We Once Were Going to Be?


The polyvagal theory: New insights into adaptive reactions of the autonomic nervous system. STEPHEN W. PORGES, PhD.

Firestone, R, “The Fantasy Bond: Structure of Psychological Defenses,” Human Sciences Press, USA.

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