Native American Visions

When I took my 17,000 mile road trip in 2008, I called it a “Shamanic Car Quest” upon my return. The phrase summarized my experience: being thrown into a world full of meaning, or a search for meaning in a sea of meaning, though it was all about the modern world. I’ve never written about this trip, except in passing. What I will say is that my experiences with psychosis, now ranging in seven breaks from reality (really, I’ve lost count) seem to be distilling themselves into a more concise story. It’s a story of Fact and Myth.

Let me begin by saying I am 1/16 Lakota; my paternal grandfather’s mother was 100% Lakota. When my great grandmother was young, Native American children were separated from their parents and sent to Christian schools where they were stripped of their identity and given Christian names. Around the 1920s, it was shameful that one be Native American here in America, and my grandfather’s siblings all shunned their mother’s ancestry and never spoke of it. The only person interested in the religious aspects or the culture of Native Americans was my grandfather, who kept meticulous and rich scrapbooks from his youth.

So, in short, this is my family history. I say in short because there is a lot missing to the story.

This past psychosis in May I started hearing nature sounds (aside from birds talking). One day, while driving by my grandfather’s old house, I started to hear a huge swarm of birds as I got closer and closer. I rolled down my window to figure out the source of the sound, because it first presented as a beautiful, loud buzzing or stirring of the air. As I passed each alley, the sound of an active flock would swell as I approached and shrink away as I passed the next alley. This continued for at least a mile and disappeared one or two blocks past his house. At the time all I could think was, “What does this mean?” Unable to come to an answer, I went home and continued on with my day.

Other, strange events have been happening, like hearing mice in my ear or hearing the wind talk in the trees. The nature sounds are a sharp departure from the motors, fans, and fridge talking. For one, there are no words (obviously) and two, these sounds are easier to hear over the long term.

As the story goes in my head, this legacy of magic has skipped a generation will now only go to the women in the family because the men misused it, which is part of the family history I passed over. Part of what I am hearing, for I am still hearing voices as well as noises, is that it is best not to talk (even think) about the mundane aspects of life while walking in the spirit world, or as Western Science would call it, “while I am delusional”. There are practical aspects as well because my mind isn’t altogether functioning in a strait line. So this thinking then led me to the saying in my prior post: Live Your Myth. Walk Your Reality. It is still necessary to take care of my day-to-day chores, I just should not plan or fret about mundane life during this time.

Another theme that was prominent in this “psychosis” (and I put that in quotes because I am truly questioning the nature of my experiences now) was to not spiritualize events, but to allow them to be as they are, experiences. The idea being is that the shaman walks the spirit world all the time; the shaman lives her myth.

Some schizophrenics develop detailed delusions with overarching themes, so this could all be viewed as the continued degenerative nature of my disease. Part of this, however, is foregoing the Western explanation of events. I don’t feel I am degenerating, on the contrary, I seem to be more grounded. I am going to try and live my experiences without the encumbering (or dismissive) explanations. “Oh, that’s a hallucination.” “I’m delusional.” These sorts of self-reflective definitions seem limiting. At the same time, I am going to continue on with my medications and treatment and not throw myself head-first into unreality because, quite frankly, I disconnect quite easily.

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Live Your Myth. Walk Your Reality.

Since the onset of schizophrenia in my late thirties, I’ve been reeling spiritually. Delusions, paranoia, and hallucinations, both auditory and visual, have left me pondering deeper truths and reflecting upon the nature of life, death, and all things taken for granted. I came up with saying to help me discern between two (often disparate) realities of what I hear and what I believe to be true.

Walk-and-Live

Anniversary — Year Seven

Hearing voices again, though I am surely not in the condition I found myself last November. My last bought with psychosis was really hard core, where I was not only delusional and hallucinating, but I also found myself fainting and passing out in public on numerous occasions. After a battery of tests with cardiologists and a neurologist, nothing has been discovered to be the cause of whatever ailed me.

This run of hallucinations are much more mild, perhaps alleviated by the medications, but not altogether suppressed by them. I approach seven years with the onset of schizophrenia: so debilitating. I’ve quit two jobs in the past six months and am now faced with the hard fact that I may not be able to continue to work full-time with intermittent psychosis that lasts a month and takes yet another month from which to recover.

I was living in my Airstream when — again — this cycle hit. I moved back home where I am now living with my mother in a 450 square foot apartment. We’re slated to find larger accommodations this summer when another place becomes available. As I hate to admit it, I feel so much better having company and constant contact with people at home.

For the most part I find myself in good spirits except for when my cat, Daisy, leaps upon me in the morning with her hangry (hungry, angry) pleas for food. Here in America, doctors won’t dispense anti-anxiety medications as often as before. My once-daily dose 1 mg Ativan/Lorazapam has been revoked. Without any way to manage my anxiety, it does reach the higher limits occasionally. In those times, I try to remember Twitter, so I can focus my energy and attention on something different, but sadly it seems more than absurd that someone with diagnosed paranoia-symptom illness (which is more about feeling intense fear than suspicion) can’t get medications to treat the condition while older ladies I know get huge bottles of more potent medications to help them through menopause. Rush thee, Change of Life, along please!

I approach Year Seven with Schizophrenia, hopeful that things can change, but fearful there is no panacea that will take me back to where I once was.

Holiday Reprieve and Repose

BuddhaWell, after my most recent insanity (Three-Fisted Punch), including a trip to the Kansas State Highway Sherriff’s Department and local hospital, totaling my car, and purchasing a travel trailer while delusional, I’ve managed to enjoy at least one holiday this season at home with relatively little drama and unplanned expense.

I’m at a loss for my most recent symptoms, which include blackouts and fainting spells – not at all a part of psychosis or schizoprenia. I’ve been seeing a neurologist and have had a battery of tests, including an electroencephalogram (EEG) for the head, an electrocardiogram (EKG) for the heart, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) for the brain. I’m thankful that I have insurance at this time, but this is short-lived because through this last upheaval I managed to quit my job as well.

So, now unemployed, I’m left wondering what comes next. For now I think I can manage through January (maybe even February) without a job, but I need health coverage and some added stability with my sanity. Being delusional every six months has proven to be very destructive and costly.

On an up note, I am happy to be safe at home, warm and fed, drinking a spot of coffee and enjoying the company of my ever-loving cats.

Storm Prose

She sat dismayed, staring out the window, shadows cast from stars and steeples. Dismayed with November, and who was to say she would not remember gazing at the shades of Southern-facing slopes in the distance, dancing in the sky in the way only mountains sway, slopping and dipping, turning and finishing with a snap in the sky. The source of her dismay was not the dismal scent of stereophonic traffic, it was the stammering and stuttering laughter, a nervous twitter of excitement, her excitement at the candid expression.

2008

Three-Fisted Punch

I found Oz. Found the Cloud in car form. Found myself lost, yet again, driving aimlessly, directionless, disoriented, and overwhelmed by the stories I hear. As I drive through Kansas, I find myself locked up in jail, at the hospital and then finally, riding shotgun on a trip that started out with me and me alone missing a flight to Ohio.

Three weeks ago I planned to visit family for Thanksgiving. Caught up in conversation with myself, I lost track of time and ended up missing my flight. Silly as I am, I think driving is the solution, instead of waiting for the stand-by flight the next day. Not twelve hours into my trip I am already lost and confused, failing to follow a strait line through the Heartland. As I drive I hear the voices talking, telling me the story of places and the future.

By Day 2, my phone is dead. By Day 5 I’m in the middle of nowhere, calling on a rural neighbor’s phone for help. I’ve got a hotel room and I am waiting for my brothers to arrive. There’s a carload of people and a plan to find Chinese food as a subterfuge for setting the stage for all things greater, all things magic. Christian is in the car with me but he’s not slick , in my shoes, to escape the Sheriff’s questioning. His words fall like bricks and the squad cars surround me as the Authorities nearly tackle me to the ground.

My car is impounded and liberated at the same time. Christian is free to leave me in the dust and continue on with his plan, whatever it may be, while I loiter at the station and the officers sort through it all. He’s pissed, however, because I won’t let him dominate the operation using my car without me. As a show of force, he appears before in cloud form and attempts to play the harpsichord and pluck my life force. In exchange, I play my own magical maneuvers, and ensues the battle between two sorcerers. After demonstrating how I can make him piss and shit his pants, I’m on the floor, passing out over and over again. By now the ambulance has been called and I am whisked away, but not before I can knock my fists together three times and deliver the final blow and he’s not gone when I arrive back at the hotel where my brothers arrive a few hours later.

In tow on the way home, I chatter endlessly as the story of sorcerers, as the story arc evolves from the American’s East Coast/ West Coast Car War to the Spaniard’s bipole Blood War. And the visions are horrific, in my mind, as the war they are fighting is not the war they are winning.

Your Water War is not my Blood War.