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In 1999 my brain went psycho.

I experienced a psychotic episode.

My hard-drive, stopped working.

I found myself in the land of Catatonia.

I drifted in and out of a foggy nightmare.

Familiar faces appeared and disappeared,

Friends brought me gifts of food to entice me to eat.

I weighed 43 of my usual 60 kilograms.

I had forgotten what it meant to eat, to live, to be alive.

I drifted away in the neurosis, disappeared into limbo.

Lost senses, lost my way, myself.

Like I had no physical form: in vitro.

Admitted as an involuntary patient,

I had no say in my care for I was a risk to myself,

Like a lost child.

Even children have rights and mine were taken from me.

The anti-psychotic drugs I was forced to take, kept me off my face, drug addicted.

I sensed a chiselling fear,

Grating at me like parasites under my skin –

Scabies from the bedclothes, where I sought love,

Tripped illusion.

Permission denied – to lock your door,

Lurking voices at the threshold,

Whispering stories of Pirandello and Six Characters In Search of an Author

Alice in the rabbit hole,

Fingers gripped and slipped,

I reached for an anchor to pull me out.

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Saviour- Jesus Christ! Get me the FUCK out of here!

(It is a vivid memory, more real than I am.)

My oath,

Never will I go to that place again.

From Catatonia it took two weeks for the drugs to trigger my understanding of what had happened, and then another two to find the neurons, the pathways from my brain to my limbs, from my memory to sequences learnt as a child –

(here we go round the mulberry bush)

How to dress myself, feed myself, wash myself.

Come back to myself, save myself.

Stiff and sore, my limbs felt like sticks from muscle atrophy- I longed for them to be soothed.

Slowly my body started to connect with my hard-drive again.

I had to show the doctors that I was well enough to earn the right to my body, my brain and to free will.

And when I could prove that in an interview, they would let me go home.

Actress of my intention, the key was given, the lungs opened up, breath pulled me up and into the world again with eyes wide open, senses charged.

It was cold when I left the hospital in a taxi.

I returned to the place I left and I started again.

I worked to be sane.

I remember the first morning of my return.

It took a long time to undress, shower and redress.

Slow, calculated, concentrated effort to undo buttons, fingers slipped, tenacious intent, figuring out which arm first, which leg.

Under the warmth of the water, savouring the privacy I told myself that with each action, I move away from this black hole towards my strength.

Just keep going and everything will be alright- I coached myself.

I was the girl who had won three cross-countries, produced theatre, facilitated and taught young people the art of performance. I inspired others to be great.

I stood on stage in my Mother’s nightdress to play lady Macbeth, applauded for killing my children as the character Medea! Typecast by the eye of directors who saw talent in the act of insanity.

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When my brain went psycho I had no control, no fault, no way of knowing.

I write this to emphasize judgement.

Judgement holds us in a static frame, a snap in time a label, classified.

My point is that we are never one thing.

To find fault, is to point the finger,

At a single attribute- to be or not to be.

Forgiveness recognises that we evolve.

Here there is acceptance that allows us to sit with the discomfort.

Awareness then moves us to an opening and pushes us out.

Sticks splinter and fracture when broken, but they are the fuel for the fire that rekindles.

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