My first trip to the psych ward was because I went bat-shit crazy.
When I decided that I needed to spend more of my time writing I checked the Adult Ed catalog in search of some kind of writing class as a refresher and settled on the one titled, “Writing Reality in Creative Non Fiction 1”. It sounded perfect. The description spoke of a 1/2 day workshop exploring different forms of non fiction, exercises to kick start your writing and an option to submit some of your writing for open discussion. I naively assumed that a 1/2 day “workshop” was just a fancier way of saying “class”. I signed up for the “class” scheduled on the day of my mother’s birth knowing that would make it difficult to forget and then made a conscious decision to NOT let my mind talk myself out of going. If I want to move forward, I have to take some forward steps and do something different. For the next 6 weeks every time I even THOUGHT about the class, every muscle in my body would clench up and my heart would race. Inside my mind I could feel myself being dragged in that direction but I couldn’t stop the motion and I could hear the cries of resistance in my head, begging me NOT to do this. So, I did what I am best at and shoved that resisting side of me into a box marked,” Do not open until 3/24.” and soldiered on.
In the week before the class I did print out every page I had already written and put them in a folder to take with me, although I knew I didn’t want anyone to see what those pages contained. I tried to do some rewriting and editing but somehow filling in details and correcting punctuation was too overwhelming so that folder went into a bag for Saturday. I like to write and purge, but I’m not a fan of reliving the past and that is what writing, and therefore editing, is for me.
The morning of the “class” came and I woke stressed and full of anxiety but I got up and made sure I had what I needed and off I went, arriving a half hour early. The instructor let me in the building and then walked me to the classroom where she was setting up a coffeemaker and arranging books on the table. I wondered why she was lining up reading for us in a writing course but I asked no questions and went about getting my laptop out and setting up the area where I would be seated and working. Others in the class straggled in and we began. She started by going over forms of writing, many of which I had never heard of, and explained to us that her selection of books showcased the various forms. All I was thinking about was,”Do I have a form? I can’t write in a form. I write how I talk, hear, understand and live. It might be lyrical, it might be fragmented. Maybe it looks like an essay, maybe it looks like a journal. Many times it looks like a scribble in crayon and it may very well be. This is the wrong place for me, why did I sign up for this? Shouldn’t the description have been clearer? I’m not an actual WRITER, I just write.” I realize that I am missing everything she is saying because I am deep inside my own head and try to focus. They start to talk about publishing articles and I am gone again. This time I physically get up and walk to the bathroom. I Snapchat my sister while sitting on the very public restroom toilet and tell her I am a moron, the stupidest, least educated one here, I don’t know what I’m thinking. What is wrong with me? This is too much for me and I can’t do it. I end with a quick whispered, I love you. I get up, wash my hands, take a deep breath, do a little shake it off and walk back into the classroom where I know God put me. Even if it wasn’t what I thought it was going to be, I am here, in this particular classroom for a reason. There is something for me here, so I’m going to open my eyes, ears and heart and find it and I’m going to chase it!
Thanks for joining me! My name is Jackie. I am the wife of a wonderful husband, mother of four boys and GiGi to one beautiful little girl. I am an intensely private person, so creating this blog was like being hung from the rack for me but I put on my headphones and powered through the wet cement in my mind to create what I believe will be the pathway to my healing. I have not really been out in public much or talked to anyone other than my immediate family and the custodian of my med management, a psychiatric nurse practitioner to whom I credit my current clarity of mind, since my last hospitalization in 2012. It wasn’t until I signed up for, what I thought, was a writing “class” and walked into a writing “workshop”, that I knew my life was changing in a big way. Until that moment, I was ignorant of the difference and I was under-prepared and overwhelmed. I am private for my own protection and it seems writers must become masters at self-promotion. I’m going to add that to my list of things I must do…NOT.
I am a person that is very good at placing things in boxes, both emotionally and physically, to be dealt with later, only later never seems to come. I have packed away large sections of my life, mind and memory over the years and now it seems some of the boxes are tearing open and the contents of a life filled with trauma, abuse and mental illness are spilling out and must be dealt with.
I have written and journal-ed off and on since I was in grade school. I have been through years of behavioral therapy, individual counseling, group counseling, 2 hospitalizations and 2 day programs. I began studying for my Bachelors in Mental Health and Human Services with a concentration in Addiction Studies but bailed out of college after 3 years, just a few classes short of a degree. The subject matter just hit me too hard. I was trying to cure myself of all my afflictions as if knowing everything I could about a disease would make me immune to it. It didn’t.
I recently admitted to myself that writing was what I really wanted to be doing and that I should have been doing it all along and it was high time I got to doing something about it. So, here goes- I’m all in!! Well, I’m heading there..going in the right direction anyway… If only one person out there can relate and know they are not alone by reading my ramblings, I will feel my purpose is filled…While each of our battles are fought single-handed and in private; there is no need for any of us to feel we are alone and suffering in this big world…
Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton