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I hunched at my school desk, seventeen and slipping into an abyss whose shadow I had barely glimpsed before. My left hand shook with free-associations in a spatter of words that galloped through my head and outside the margins of lined notebook paper.Dark, its so dark like it was night even though its 8:00 in the morning Warning Everythings going to fall fall apart my heart will break and take away everything my mind is fading fast fast vast emptiness oh help the universe is coming to get me I whirled and then faded, dead inside, into a suffocating fog. Speaking of dead that was all I wanted. Well, it wasnt that I wanted to die, I had to. I needed to escape the tumult that was exhausting my emotional and physical resources. And I had to die because I deserved to, because I was evil. I knew that I had transformed absolutely into a rotten core. I had recently discovered this one horrifying night when it became clear as I raced around my bedroom that I was the reincarnation of Judas Iscariot, betrayer of Jesus. And I would plunge to Hell like he had, so why shouldnt I kill myself now to get it over with? Especially since I only burdened everyone around me. My family and friends would rejoice once I was dead. These thoughts progressed to the point that I could no longer touch anyone, in order that I not contaminate them with my toxic essence. Then I could no longer allow my fingers or limbs to touch each other, because somehow this was evil, too. Soon God no longer permitted me to eat or sleep because I was such a monstrosity. I stopped showering and changing clothes, almost stopped speaking. No longer able to attend high school, I shrunk my days to mere huddling on a chair in our living room, guarded by my parents and siblings in shifts. Every moment I could snatch to myself. I punched holes in my wrist with a safety pin hidden in my sleeve. One afternoon, left alone for a minute, I crept furtively to the top of the second floor flight of stairs, about to hurl myself down them until I was discovered and tugged back downstairs, held tightly by the hand. Finally my mind and body were so clamped down by dark gravity that I was no longer able to hurt myself. One day I simply goggled at the unfamiliar face in our cold bathroom mirror. Who is that? Im not me anymoreIm an alien, I decided. Someone or something has stolen my identity and taken me over. Well, it can have me I surrender because I am worth nothing anyway. So nothing matters. I certainly dont matter. During those gray hours, days, and months my mind cramped into nothing but ruminations of worthlessness, and I didnt matter to myself at all. Luckily, of course to my parents and brothers and sisters I did matter, very much. Even if they puzzled over what was happening to me as much as I did, they intuited my distress and incapacitization and got me help. My family brought me to a psychiatric hospital where I stayed for a month. I was diagnosed with depression with psychotic features, and given antidepressants and an antipsychotic. While in the hospital, I discovered art therapy and painted surreal abstracts and wrote long narrative poems about my depression and recovery. And recover I did, into the blessed contentment of feeling like myself again a brighter, happier self at that. Now, armed with a name for what ailed me, I consumed volumes about depression and bipolar disorder. I devoured books and articles about psychotropic medications and art therapy and theories of psychiatric rehabilitation and mood charting and the consumer movement. I discovered Kay Redfield Jamison, Ph.D., who became a role model, and pored over her memoir, An Unquiet Mind and Manic-Depressive Illness, the authoritative text on bipolar disorder that Jamison wrote with Frederick Goodwin, MD. I involved myself with one of the nations leading mental health advocacy organizations, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (abbreviated as NAMI) and later assumed a leadership role on the Consumer Council a

Biographies & Memoirs
October 26
Xlibris US