Saturday, February 12, 2011
My silence over the last month continues to be explained by the write up phase of my PhD. This phase is desolation. Even my GP said the other day that 'PhD's are enough to drive sane people insane, imagine the stress you are under'. How interesting, when one lives with stress as a daily partner it becomes normalised. That doesn't mean it is any less debilitating but just a part of the mental torment to control and 'get through' in one's normal routine. Turning is desperation to people whose words can describe the things I find hard to encapsulate adequately in my creative writing, and the things that sound cliched in my academic writing, I find that every time I open their books new things jump out at me.
It's as if... I feel even more inadequate> How could I have survived with this condition this long and not seen or understood the obvious things being spoken about. For example throughout my life I have had suicidal ideations and indeed taken a perverse pleasure in them. It was as if my safety was thinking about suicide rather than acting upon it. I was not and am not alone. Apparently this is the very stuff of suicide ideation, a form of wish fulfilment that promises and imagined respite from the unbearable pain. Yet to act upon it is vengeful. It is to purposely hurt others... along the lines of Spike Milligan's "I told you I was ill"...a sort of see, you wouldn't believe how real this was, now you can feel guilty.
To have that much anger seems counter to the despair and enervation that is upon one when suicide ideations occur. Why have I not been able to see it before reading famed entertainment industry attorney Terri Cheney's book, Manic: A memoir. Or another, Darkness Visible by the late author William Styron.
I have felt comfortable re-reading Kay Redfield Jamieson's 1993 Touched with Fire as an academic search for knowledge, and previously her memoir, An Unquiet Mind. It is as if these people are publically successful and safe to speak about their depressions and manias that make me stop and reflect on what I am actually doing in my own PhD. Is my lack of public profile good or bad? Does it mean that what I have to say will be less valued? Can there ever be an 'everyone' voice of the disease BMD, when it is so idiosyncratic in its shifts, phases, cycles and even within the polarities themselves, let alone the individual differences in reactions to and success with medications and pharmacological interventions.
So in the academic sense what can be my contribution to new knowledge as demanded of a PhD? What can I say that these highly skilled and intelligent wordsmiths and successful professional people have not said?
Maybe it is simply to let people share a glimpse inside the world of madness, and that it is not unrelenting and there are times of absolute psychological normality. We are not all the same. I am not my illness.
It has been a revelation to me that the sexual promiscuity that can accompany mania is less about feeling desirable and sexually powerful and is more about a desperate need for human connection... the need to feel connected with someone. Communication being the goal however when the libido is freed from normal rational constraint, it becomes the equivalent of 'beer goggles'.... sex becomes confused with connection.
is that what my PhD is about and also this blog... my need to connect as I am alone in life and have no partner to be strong for me throughout the ups and downs?
"Only connect! That was the whole of her sermon. Only connect the prose and the passion, and both will be exalted, and human love will be seen at its height. Live in fragments no longer. Only connect, and the beast and the monk, robbed of the isolation that is life to either, will die." Howards End 1910 by E.M Forster.
Like Rita in educating Rita, it finally makes sense to me too.