It was April 9th when I admitted myself to hospital, unable to speak and in a state of considerable sustained agitation. It was the next day that I was told that a form of temporary mental illness caused by emotional distress. Two months later, the psychiatrist to whom I was assigned, said the emotional distress was PTSD.
Last week, Dr. Shoja told me how often we would see each other for the rest of my life and when she did, I wept with relief to know that it would last that long. I count on that relief every day and never take it, or Dr. Shoja, for granted.
However, the way PTSD feels to me right now has me thinking of my very recent history differently: On April 9th, I turned my self in. The next day, the charges against me were explained; I was found to be guilty by reason of insanity, my sentence to be served as house arrest. I am assigned a parole officer whom I am to see once a week for a year, once every two weeks for a second year and then bi-annually for the rest of my life.
At least I have a nice cell. And in truth, I can get out. But on the Labour Day weekend, I was caught on the lam (when I collapsed on the seawall). I was restrained (literally), thrown into a paddy wagon (ambulance) and taken back to prison (St. Paul’s).
My parole officer saw me the next day. She advised me to use the ankle bracelet (medications) I’d been given so that I could safely and legally go outdoors. She understands, though, how the bracelet makes me feel like a felon.
So I stay home with my projects and I sneak out for food and other supplies. I don’t have to wear my bracelet to go to and from any appointments with the prison and/or prison officials, I only have to wear it on days that involve doing things with other people.
All this, and I didn’t do the crime. The crime was done to me and I am still feeling victimized by the perpetrators.
I recently saw a poignant portrayal of a victim of rape on television by an accomplished actor. She presented a flawless and moving performance of a role that was particularly well written. I sat motionless, silent and transfixed because she sounded like I feel. She was expressing the frustration, anger and sadness of living with the life sentence that comes with trauma.
A victim of abuse is like the alcoholic who still goes to AAA and still calls himself an alcoholic even though he hasn't had a drop in fifty years.
I will never stop feeling this way. That’s why I obsess over pretty things: Everything is pretty in my cell and there is an abundance of pretty scents available for release: cologne, incense, soaps, candles, sugar on the burners of my stove and vanilla in the oven. I wear pretty clothes and I’ve been making the prettiest things I can all my life.
That’s my compensatory strategy — making lemonade. Thank God for sugar.