Thursday, April 06, 2006

Songs of a Psychotic


In all my ebay hunting, I came across a very interesting book of poetry that I couldn't pass up. It's called "The Cliff's Edge-Songs of a Psychotic." It was written by a young lady in the 1950's during her stay at a mental institution. The introduction states that she was in one of the "nation's largest mental hospitals." I would love to know where she was exactly, but haven't had much luck finding her info online.

Most of the poetry was written when she was eighteen years old. Even in an altered mental state, it's hard to believe these thoughts and words came from someone so young.

Having seen my mother go through so much in mental institutions all my life, it has been very heart-rending to read her words. She speaks of very specific situations such as shock therapy (which my mom has been through several times) group therapy, and suicidal thoughts.

Here are a couple examples of her work that touched me.



Pendulum - Pulse
This is the rhythm of my life-
The slow
Unhurried swinging of a pendulum,
Marking with fatal pulse the season's round.
The spring outside means nothing;
For, to me,
Fear like the winter snow has frozen my heart.

And can it be that once again the hours,
Passing in cycle slow, will bring the flowers?
Or will Time's muffled drums beat out for me
A long death-march...into Eternity?



Alter Christus
Lord, for the pain I cursed You for last night
I do most gladly offer thanks today...
For, not with pride but deep humility
In me, and by me, and through me, I find-You!
In my stripped loneliness, Your own imprisonment-
My bruises mark Your scourging; and the same
Rude jests ring in my ears that rand in Yours-
And round my aching head I seem to feel
Even today, the racking crown of thorns...
I too was bound-and, though I never died,
I was like You-my spirit crucified.

4 comments:

Andrea said...

Wow!!!! That's awesome stuff. Let me know how the rest of the book is.

You know what bugs me the most? People who think those with mental illness are crazy and can't form a sentence. Have you heard the things they've said about Andrea Yates and others who suffer from mental illness? It's like they think they're just out of their minds and there's nothing but a shell of a human walking around who can't talk or think or feel.

Unless you've been there, you don't understand that this is still a person with real feelings and thoughts.

I remember your mom telling me once about how she feels when she's at a low point. She told me she knows her thoughts can't be real but there's nothing in that moment that anyone can say to convince her otherwise. I just can't imagine how that must feel.

allison said...

It's strange that you used the word "shell" in your comment. The book is short, and I've already read all of it, and there are several times when she refers to herself as a "shell." You are so right!!!

I feel really bad for Mom sometimes, because it seems like there are times when there's a small fragment of her that knows she's not making sense, but just like you said, there's nothing anyone can do to talk her out of those thoughts. She still has days like that.

I try to be very patient with her, but it's really hard sometimes. I'm the type of person that likes to explain myself and/or reason with people and you just can't do that with a paranoid schizophrenic. Sometimes even I need a reminder of that.

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