"Wherever I sat — on the deck of a ship or at a street café in Paris or Bangkok — I would be sitting under the same glass bell jar, stewing in my own sour air."
"The bell jar hung, suspended, a few feet above my head. I was open to the circulating air."
"How did I know that someday — at college, in Europe, somewhere, anywhere — the bell jar, with its stifling distortions, wouldn’t descend again?"
"To the person in the bell jar, blank and stopped as a dead baby, the world itself is the bad dream"
The Bell Jar, Sylvia Path
I was wearing my tapestry coat. The thought occured to me that, perhaps, the coat was too colourful. That they'd think I'm alright. There was the tram and the paranoid impression that everyone knew where I was going. Not that it mattered but in fact it did. I hadn't accepted the fact yet. It was stiffling hot that day but it wasn't. It was my own stiffling air. On May 14th, at 3 pm, I pushed the door of the psychiatric hospital. I had spent nights considering the options but there weren't any options. I wasn't living anymore and I was barely functioning. I could not eat. I could not sleep, I hated to sleep because it meant waking up and waking up to brave a new day of suffering was hardly bearable. I was feeble and testy.
"I've seen you unhappy for too long now". The sword of "involuntary commitment" was above my head. Inescapably I would have been forced. So I chose being hospitalised, I wanted to have the courage to do it. During two weeks, on our daily dog walk with my mum, I tried to tell her. The words would not come out. My breath came in short gasps every time and I couldn't do it. No words seemed hopeful enough. Only because I was so desperate.
I remember the guy looking at me fixedly and following the nurse and I while she was giving me the tour of the building. I was scared to death that first day. I thought "I've really wound up in 'One flew over the cuckoo's nest' ". So I sat on "my" bed and waited. I can't tell you how many hours I waited during these three months. I waited for the drugs to work, I waited for the end of the day, I waited all week long to go home on weekends. I waited for the meals because there were the only highlights of the day (even tough the food was horrible). I waited all night long because I couldn't sleep. I waited for the psychiatrists to believe me when I said I could not sleep.
I've got many reproaches to make regarding the (well, this) psychiatric hospital but indeniably it's changed my life. Obviously. Not as I expected. Not at all. It's challenged me: I've grown and I've learnt. I learnt that my sadness was stronger than their drugs. They said I was refractory to treatment. I checked into hospital to get a medicine that would work for god's sake. My brain cells were impervious to antidepressants : I wanted nothing but this sadness to draw back (and get out as soon as I could...). I learnt that nothing could save me but myself.
I found out who my friends are and got support from unexpected people. It may seem cliché to say that you know your friends when you're at your lowest but it's true. It's radical but true. Some people never asked after me. It's sad that mental illnesses are not taken into consideration. Not enought anyway. It shouldn't be like that. People suffering from mental illness are those in need of most support. It is scary. It's hard to understand. The hell it is, I don't even get it... And yet I will have to live with it for the rest of my life so for now, I just accept it and I'm so grateful for people who've accepted that I'm sick. That's part of who I am but I am also so much more than this.
On August 14th, 4 pm, I was out. With no effective drug or rather with a feebly effective drug antidepressant-wise and very effective side-effect-wise (read: apathy, serious loss weight and heamatomas all over my body) and with no therapy plan. I was left to my own devices. I might have been as scared as when I checked in.
Caitlin from The Vegan Chickpea posted a quote from the Bell Jar. I immediately knew that I'd like the book. Our stories are completely different yet I've gone through what Esther has gone through. Some people except you to be fine when you're out. That the whole experience is behind you. Something that can be forgotten. But it will never be behind me. It is with me all the time : I always have the threat of the bell jar on my psyche. For now, I do my best to find means to lift it the higher I can and to be ready when it comes down. Conventional psychiatric medecine is out of the question. It does not do. I will write more on this in a future post.
I took this photo a few months ago but I've recently started to make this smoothie again as I try not to eat too many bananas (Chinese medecine thing).
Pear spirulina smoothie
1 pear, frozen
15 g blueberries
small handful of greens*
10 g chia seeds
10-15 cl almond milk (depending on desired consistency)
1 teaspoon spirulina (or to taste, I personally love spirulina so I tend to use a lot)
*beyond spinach or kale : bok choi/romaine/parsley/celery/radish leaves...
Smoothie spiruline et poire
(végétalien, sans gluten)
1 poire, congelée
15 g myrtilles
une poignée de feuilles vertes*
10 g graines de chia
10-15 cl lait d'amande (à doser selon votre consistance préférée)
1 cuillère à café de spiruline (j'adore la spiruline donc j'ai tendance à en mettre beaucoup, à doser aussi!)
A vos blenders!
*pensez à varier : bok choi/romaine/persil/feuilles de céleri/feuilles de radis