Great Escapes and Silver Linings

What does “too many books” mean?

Reading really helped me get through my times in the hospital. Our apartment is littered with books because one day I was manic and decided to order everything I might want to read while I was away at the new psych unit. When I was able to focus, when the meds weren’t draining my brain so much that I couldn’t make sense of the words, I ate books. They were great escapes. They let me leave the walls of the psych ward, escape the eyes of the staff, forget that I was feeling trapped in my own feelings. I like to read memoirs in particular.

For instance before I had ECT I’d read Carrie Fisher’s Shockaholic. When it came time for my experience I wasn’t as afraid as I might have been. It’s always been helpful to me to read about people going through the same things as I am. I feel much less alone. But I was also reading fiction, like All the Light We Cannot See, and other types of nonfiction like John Cleese’s autobiography. Any world to get me outside of myself was preferable to the way I was existing at the time. Also, in a psychiatric unit, for those of you lucky enough not to have been to one as either patient or visitor, there is not much to do. There are usually 1 or 2 TVs, lots of board and card games with almost all of the parts, and donated books. There is always a Bible. The units I’ve been on in the last few years each had a few computers for patients to use. The ones at 9GN actually had chairs, the ones in 11 north were at standing stations. You couldn’t use the computer for more than half an hour at a time.

There were groups, activities, meal times, but despite all that there was also a lot of downtime, which is where books and journaling came in for me. I didn’t read too much before the suicide attempt because I was coming out of ECT and it was hard to focus, but afterward I read a lot. It was a great solace because there was no interpersonal pressure. I am introverted in many ways, including the need for solitude to recharge my social abilities. When you’re on a psych ward, and particularly when you are a dangerous patient who is often on constant observation, there is not a lot of solitude. There are people everywhere, all the time. Even in the middle of the night there is staff all around, your roommate sleeping next to you, people up and down the hallway asleep or drifting in the common areas. During the day it is chaos, noise, constant activity with doctors, patients, staff, visitors, students, crew, you name it, running in and out of the unit. Well, some of us could leave. During one of my stays they actually trusted me enough to let me go outside supervised. That didn’t happen later on. But I digress. As an introvert, books gave me the space away from the crowds and the noise to become totally absorbed and escape from the horror of my existence. Books were safe sanctuaries, as they have always been.

Don’t we all kind of want to be her?

19) “Who would you want to play you in a movie of your life and why? Who could play the other important roles? What songs would you choose for the soundtrack? Create the play list.”

I would pick Jennifer Lawrence because she is the best. She comes across as genuine, smart, and dedicated. There are some theories floating around that her character in SLP had Borderline Personality Disorder, and I am inclined to agree with them. She has mood swings, outbursts (re: the scene in the diner), and intense interpersonal feelings. So basically she’s already prepped to play me.

Her portrayal of someone with mental health challenges was not only sincere but almost muted. She didn’t inflate her character into someone who was too much of anything, except when the moment called for it. I feel like she could play someone who commonly has extreme moods, who has gone to the depths of anger and depression, is smart and funny, changes opinions all the time, has trouble identifying a stable sense of self, sees the world in black and white most of the time, cannot moderate behaviors, used to self harm, has intense self-awareness, loves to help others, loves piercings and tattoos, is a Gwen Stefani fangirl, plays video games all the time, writes, and wants to become a nurse. It wouldn’t be difficult to make a movie about my life but there would be a lot of depression and agoraphobia interludes that would be very disappointing for the audience. Maybe we’d just skip those…

I could see Aaron Paul playing Husband because he could portray his anguish and intellectual passion. They also don’t look dissimilar. Everyone says he looks like one of the guys from Sons of Anarchy. Husband is complicated and nuanced. He is very complex, compartmentalized, and brilliant. He has struggles, he’s had issues, he’s been through some serious shit, but he’s come out on top and is really making something of himself by channeling his passions right now.

I think Kathy Bates could play my mom because she is a goddess and can play anything, and my mother is very complex. My sister would be played by Kristen Wiig, because she really quirky but I think could also portray her struggles as well as her successful career. I would pick Hugh Laurie to play my dad because he can be serious but also seriously witty. My two besties would be Tina Fey and Rebel Wilson. My other best girlies would be played by various cast members from SNL and Bridesmaids because everyone is multi talented and hilarious. I can think of one friend in particular who would be a great Ellie Kemper.

The soundtrack will be hard to do because I listen to a lot of music, but here goes:

  • Kenny Loggins, Wilson Philips, Gloria Estefan, Madonna, Eric Clapton, Disney, etc for childhood
  • Green Day, No Doubt, Blink 182, Garbage, Nirvana, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Evanescence, Nine Inch Nails, Korn, Puddle of Mudd,  etc for my teenage years
  • Gwen Stefani, Hoobastank, The Avenue Q soundtrack, Linkin Park, Eminem, Rufus Wainwright, Regina Spektor
  • Hozier, Meghan Trainor, Sia, Madonna, Lady Gaga, Twenty One Pilots, Beyonce

I could be more complete about this, so maybe I’ll come back to it.

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