Fingers clutch desperately to the sides of my double bed/life raft. The sea is rough, waves 40 feet tall! Crash, they threaten to thrust me into the deepest part of this ocean. Down to 118 pounds. The slightest tip and my frail body will slip into the sea.
Stare up into the sky, through bedroom ceiling. Pitch dark night a comfort, always. Steady. Focus. “Be a good soldier.”
Find the North Star, Polaris. The one you pledged to follow when UFO aliens demanded “Choose!”
It isn’t there! Constellations whirl like a wild carousel, blurring as they pass my frantic, searching eyes.
Suddenly, I’m far above the bed/raft. Winds use my body as a sail. I hover over a desert land. A man strides ahead of a huge crowd, gesturing as he speaks.
“Kill him!” That evil voice insists, whisper-shouting in my ear.
“Kill him!” Now we’re close enough to see features on dark skinned faces.
“NOOOO!” I scream, wailing through centuries.
Mom comes into my room. She wraps her arms around me so tightly, I cannot breathe.
“I’ve seen, the man, he’ll be killed. Someone will listen to the voice of ancient evil!”
My babbling makes no sense.
“You will always be my firstborn.”
This pronouncement stabs my entire being with terror. Throughout all history, every incarnation, I’ll be this woman’s firstborn child? NO!
My parents’ friends sit in the living room. Ralph says, “That damned LSD.”
A fragment of my broken mind lights up. I run to face him eyes to eyes.
“I have NEVER taken LSD! NEVER!”
It’s true. The thought of a drug to sending me into Alice’s horrific Wonderland made me avoid acid and all other hard drugs. Booze and pot had been comforts but I’d quit smoking pot while living in the crash pad and stopped drinking, too. No, it was evil. Voices had taken over my brain. The virus infected my entire being.
“It got my son.” He muttered.
RUN! Screamed a thousand wide-open mouths.
Bolt out into the darkness, seek its peace. Away from accusing eyes, eyes, eyes.
“Get her! Bob, get her!”
My six foot tall younger brother groaned and dashed out to fetch me.
“Come back here, you crazy hippy.”
Bob grabbed me by the shoulders, turned me around and dragged me away from the beautiful forest. I am a prisoner. Trapped. The brick walls of my parents’ home are a fortress.
Next week is the appointment with another devil, the psychiatrist. He’ll lock me up in the loony bin! No hope. No escape. No Exit.
Having read numerous books (including all of Kay Redfield-Jamison’s) and articles (in JAMA and BMJ, etc.) and consulting with psychiatrists, I now know I’d been in the grip of an extreme mania for three months in 1971. The severe insomnia (sleeping less than 3 hours a night) and frenzied mental state, along with a raging strep throat infection, had sent my brain into deep psychosis.