The Meaning of Pareidolia

2017-09-13 13.29.03

I miss my psychiatrist. I miss the way he would grit his teeth so as not to show his annoyance that I’d skipped my last session. I miss the way he would ask how my week had been, and attempt to make eye contact with me to ascertain the level of truth in my response. And I miss watching him scrawl notes in my file by hand.

I sit in the wicker chair in the corner of my bedroom and stare at the folds in the laundry. Sometimes I mix it up a bit and stare at the curtains, trying to pick out figures or faces in their damask pattern. I start to wish that they were real people; that they would just hop out of the fabric, give me a hug and tell me I am valuable. That’s not so healthy, I think, so I call Linda to ask her to come over. She only responds to messenger so she doesn’t answer, but when I select her name on my phone I see those three little dots that mean someone is typing. . . and a few seconds later I get a “Hey what’s up” in my inbox. I tell her I’m not doing so good, I could use some company, and she says she’ll be round in 5.

Continue reading “The Meaning of Pareidolia”

Lone Fragment

Lone Fragment

My psychiatrist is trying to kill me. I mean, it’s only a matter of time before these increasingly bizarre combinations of pills he prescribes (so painful are the side effects) do the job anyway, but that’s not what I’m talking about. 

He has at least three henchmen that follow me around, watching my every move. Hounds of Hell, I have named them affectionately, because they phase in and out as though they are not from this world. I know they are there though; I can feel them in my bones. 

The psychiatrist in question, Dr Pascal he is called, doesn’t know I’ve seen the hounds. At least, I’m pretty sure he doesn’t. I haven’t told him. Then again, maybe the little sneer he makes with the corner of his mouth is an indication that he does know, and is daring me to confront him about it so he can add delusions and hallucinations to the list of symptoms he collects in a list beneath my name. I swear he gets a handsome bonus every time he adds new one. His designer tie collection certainly goes to support that theory. 

Anyway, what he definitely doesn’t know is that I wear a mask for each and every interaction. That’s right, the real Jeremiah Holm who writes this journal resides way beneath the surface, hidden away from those who may harm him. He is protected by a sometimes arrogant, always flirtatious version of himself. So if Dr Pascal were to succeed in his wicked plan, I am confident he would only destroy my window display, and I can make a new one of those quicker than he can slap on a straitjacket. 

I’d be lying if I said the hounds didn’t worry me though. If they are not of this world they may be able sense the things beyond. If they were to find my hiding place, I’d face total implosion, of that there’s no doubt. And that, my friend, is a fate worse than death.      

Dr Pascal says things like ‘how does that diagnosis feel to you?’ And ‘do you want to know what I think?’. I don’t.

Honestly I just long for the days of seeing the university therapist. She taught me some simple breathing techniques to use in times of panic or darkness that actually did some good, and the whole experience felt friendly and gentle. 

Compared to the days that came with the fog, those memories are all sunshine and rainbows and girls in summer dresses. Don’t get me wrong, I love girls who wear black and I never wear any other colour myself. But there’s still something about a lightweight floral cloth that smells like happiness.

To this day I use the exercises the counsellor taught me, even though she betrayed me and sent me to Dr Pascal in the end. “I’m afraid there’s no more I can do for you,” she said. The ones you trust always leave though. Every fucking time.

***

This is a short excerpt from my current long form fiction project. 

Fallen Standing: My Life as a Schizophrenist – Reshma Valliappan 

I first became aware of Reshma Valliappan (also known as Val Resh) from her blog here. She writes openly and honestly about mental illness, and offers online peer support via her Red Door initiative. She also raises awareness on issues of sexuality, and has spoken at several conferences.

Fallen Standing is a raw, personal account of the events leading up to her diagnosis, her experience of treatment, and her thoughts on how labels impact us in unseen ways.

When I read the introduction and note from the publisher, I expected this to be a lot more incoherent and without logical order. It takes the form of a series of e-mails, diary entries and letters written to a friend, mostly in first person but occasionally in third, but although the writing is a little rough in places I didn’t find it difficult to follow at all. The parts in which she simply writes down a stream of consciousness are among the most illustrative of the book, and are often very humourous too. There are also some wonderfully unique analogies and associations, showing that she is skilled with language but also prepared to be brutally honest.

‘(Voices in some cases only. Not necessarily applicable to all. Offer depends upon availability of dopamine stock.)’

Continue reading “Fallen Standing: My Life as a Schizophrenist – Reshma Valliappan “

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