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Kate answered my questions first, as expected. Elizabeth Grace was next. Then Yaya. Dr O has not replied, not yet at any rate... Now Kate has posed her own series of questions to which I will reply by way of a blog entry tonight. Once again, anyone who wishes to answer these questions, feel free!
1. What was your first delusion? That I killed John F Kennedy; then the whole business of Grey Crinkled Paper. But the first time I was actually hospitalized I believed my college roommate was conspiring with other "friends" against me, and that her red sweater signified "danger days."
2. When did you first identify a voice in your head that was not your own? The voices never sounded inside my head but outside it, which made them hard to identify as coming from me. I tended to assume that there really were Japanese people in the walls, that a spirit did talk to me from various places in the air...I can't remember really when I first identified this as out of the ordinary.
3. How many times have you been in a hospital? Oh, Lordy, many more than 75 times, mostly municipal hospitals but also the regional and state hospital, and that does not even include the years of day hospitals and several years of halfway houses and supervised apartments. I must have spent, cumulatively, at the very least 8 years in-patient when all is said and done, since most of my hospitalizations were for at least a month and many, many of them were 2-3 months or longer.
4. How many offline schizophrenics do you know? Joe, for one, but I used to be friends with several when I went to the day treatment program. I've lost touch with most of them now.
5. Have you ever been to a support group for schizophrenics and/ or mental illness? Yes, a thousand times! In-patient and out-patient.
6. Is there anyone in your family who has suffered from mental illness? My great Aunt Leah was obviously mentally ill and paranoid, but never diagnosed. My cousin's son, also a twin, had schizophrenia and a few years back committed suicide. I don't know if there is more or not.
7. Do you believe in a higher power/order? Alas, not really. I think evolution and free will, man's capacity to do good or evil accounts for pretty much everything, except for me, Satan's spawn. But that is no proof of a higher power...
8. When did you first think it was possible that you could recover? When I decided to take all my meds back in February 2005 and began to feel truly well, and could make eye contact with more people, and was learning, slowly and with setbacks, what a delusion was and what a hallucination was...when all that was able to happen, I began to think maybe recovery was actually possible, that this time I wasn't just mouthing the words but was speaking the truth.
9. What is a short term goal of yours? To put together a properly organized poetry manuscript and send it out again.
10. What is a long term goal of yours? I can't set longterm goals, frankly. It is hard to look that far into the future when you think there is not going to be one --
11. How many offline friends do you have? Joe, Karen, C and L, Leila, Rennie, Sara and more...Gosh, I had no idea! Some, I don't see more than once a year, mind you, and spend more time writing to than seeing. But we are essentially offline friends who must stay in touch online because of the distance between us.
12. What place you've been would you like to return to? Golders Green, London, where we spent our fifth grade year, and had the happiest year of our childhood. Would love to see it again, see if it has completely changed or if I'd still recognize it at all.
13. If you could be young again, what age would you choose? Oh jeeze, I wouldn't want to be young again. I'd have to start all the way over again from infancy to do it right...But no, I would not go back to any year.
14. What was a happy moment in your life? I was pretty happy when I won first prize for Journalism in the Mental Health Media Awards in 1992 or '93. It was for my very first Op-Ed piece ever, and I'd had an amazing response to it, a very personal piece about schizophrenia. A friend of mine (at the time) held "Famous Writer's Week" and gave me a little trinket and a card every day for 7 days to celebrate it!
15. What was an unhappy moment? Learning that my father was telling people he had three children instead of four...
16. What author made an impression on you when you were a teen-ager? Albertine Sarrazin for her book, "The Runaway" about life in a French women's prison.
17. What book did you dislike as a teen-ager? The Norton Anthology of Poetry!!!!
18. What poem made an impression on you? Until 1984, none. After that, Carrion Comfort and anything by Gerard Manley Hopkins; Byzantium etc by William Butler Yeats
19. What was the first grown-up book you read? Penguin Island by Anatole France was the first book I had to struggle with
20. What famous person from the past would you like to have met? Too many to choose from and I'm afraid I'll pick the wrong one and miss out on a better one...Shall I agree with Kate and say, Jesus? Buddha? St Francis? Mary? Gandhi? Lincoln? Sheesh -- I'll be danged if I know!