Dave's Progress. Chapter 4: Don't Take Away my Demons, because you'll Take Away my Angels too.

Thanks again for your "mindbloggling" comments. They really gave me a lift after my news last time and I really am beginning to think I'm nicer than I thought I was! This is no small step for me after years of barraging myself with negative thoughts, particularly in terms of how I got on with other people. So your comments really are very welcome.
Anyway, this time I was going to talk about the way this illness can sometimes make you feel, which has nothing to do with hallucinating or being delusional, but is to do with what are the so-called negative symptoms of the disease. I feel that I experience these even when and despite taking medication. Indeed, perhaps as I have said before, medication can be very good at relieving positive symptoms, such as delusions, but is not so great at relieving the negative ones. According to some literature I have, these negative symptoms can include many different facets, such as "your interest in life, energy, emotions and get up and go just drain away. It is hard to feel excited or enthusiastic about anything. You can't concentrate. You may not bother to get up and go out of the house. It may be difficult to wash or tidy up or keep your clothes clean. You may feel uncomfortable with people- that you have nothing to say." I can't say that I feel all of these symptoms all of the time, but particularly the feeling that my interest in life, energy, emotions and get up and go drain away and I feel little enthusiasm for anything seems to afflict me from time to time. It is not surprising that these symptoms are often mistaken for depression, and no doubt there are plenty of people in my situation who take anti-depressant as well as anti-psychotic medication.
It is all a million miles away from how I felt during my episode of psychosis. Strangely enough, to begin with, this was a not unpleasant experience. Everything was exciting, I seemed to be fearless and there was a slightly manic high to how I felt. These feelings were all fuelled by delusions that I was famous, some kind of celebrity, and a hugely talented one at that. I had the feeling that everywhere I went people knew me, even though I went everywhere alone. Given that these feelings, then, were really quite enjoyable, why would I want to take medication to stop them or go into hospital? It was only later, when things seemed to dissolve into blinding paranoia that I began to seek help. Indeed, I could appear quite rational at times and I can remember at least two occasions when I talked myself out of being sectioned. This was also a time when I felt at my most creative and the book of poetry I wrote was originally seemingly inspired by the onset of what was then a relatively mild psychosis.
So it was that when I finally took medication I began to feel somewhat hollowed out. My creativity, as I saw it, seemed to disappear. My feelings of high mood were replaced by sluggishness and often bitter self-recrimination for the way I had behaved. But then again, I wondered, why had I had to be "controlled" in this way. Why had I suddenly become a safe and conforming individual, where before I felt dangerous and exciting? Indeed, I was comforted somewhat by the writing of R.D.Laing who seemed to understand my point of view, suggesting that "all too often, psychiatry can become a form of brainwashing" (The Divided Self). And while, in the long-term, what was happening was right, I felt important parts of my personality had gone missing. Indeed, was it a case of the old Auden saying, "don't take away my demons because you'll take away my angels too."
And now the negative symptoms. So, given the choice, would I return to my old, dangerous, crazy self? In the light of these feelings of flatness, emotionlessness and lack of motivation, would I go back? Well, I have to say that now I wouldn't. While it may have been exciting, there was only one way my behavior was heading to and that was imminent self destruction. I simply couldn't have carried on like that. And while I may have felt myself to be famous, I was also, while behaving as I was, bound to be irrevocably and resolutely alone.
And anyway, perhaps sometimes psychiatry and medication get a bit of a bad press. When thinking of psychiatry one often has in mind control and authority, or the outright despotism revealed in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest". And when one thinks of medication one sees dribbling and shaking and all those feet doing the zombie shuffle. Now, however, with modern anti-psychotics this needn't be and isn't the case. And, although I feel I often suffer from negative symptoms, I feel as if I am in control of them, rather than them controlling me.
So- take away my demons. Well, you can if you want to.
That's all for now from your normal, average delusional and paranoid man.


Jack said…
Hi David, I have just read your last two blogs.You have definately had some experiences. I too have felt the same way. Thankfully I am ok now. Try to be positive. It is hard sometimes. I am glad you like reading. Thanks for your comment. I wish you all the best. Total recall.
klahanie said…
Warm greetings David,
I am sorry to have not commented on your last chapter. I am struggling to muster up enough energy to hopefully submit a worthwhile comment. I suppose acknowledging your thought-provoking blog is a positive statement in itself.
Thank you for your continued transparency. I firmly believe that by expressing your life story so eloquently, must give you hope for a positive life. You continue to challenge your 'symptoms'. It is better to try and live with rather than suffer from our symptoms. Not always easy but by continuing to use positive resources you will discover the inner resolve that glows within.
I try to live with the 'demon' inside me that tries to sabotage my positivity. I embrace my 'angel' but understand that my demon lurks in the background. I hope I am coming closer to my angel and demon 'tug of war' living together in some kind of bizarre blessing harmony.
Thank you for commenting on my latest blog David. Your comments mean a great deal to me. Warm wishes Gary aka Klahanie.

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