In 2004, when my first psychotic episode happened, I was living in Trinidad, the twin island republic of Trinidad and Tobago, famous for its Carnival, dubbed the greatest show on earth and it lives up to its name having experienced it for myself in February of 2005. While living on Trinidad I met some really great people and made some friends. Had it not been for my friends who got me help when I had my first psychotic episode in Trinidad, who knows where I might have ended up so I am forever grateful to those friends who helped me while I was there.
So the first tell-tale sign that I was about to have a psychotic episode was sleeping disturbances. I remember waking up very early while everyone was still asleep and taking pictures. I was in an elated mood and a chair standing alone on a porch looked artistically beautiful to me.
I was down the islands with friends for Trinidad’s Independence Day celebrations which was on August 31st. It was a public holiday. Down the islands is a local Trinidadian term for the Bocas islands off the coast of Trinidad where people have weekend homes to relax away from the city or everyday life on Trinidad. It’s really very beautiful. We were on the island of Gasperee.
During this period, I had a boyfriend who was going back to college in Canada at the end of the summer and this had a profound effect upon me at the time. I can’t talk about having my first psychotic episode without mentioning him. It was a summer romance because we didn’t know each other for that long. We met in June and we began dating and I fell hard and fast so by the time it was time for him to go back to college at the beginning of September I didn’t want him to leave.
Of course my emotions surrounding him leaving were running high, so in my head I began to fall apart before my friends started noticing that something was wrong. I remember thinking in my head that I just wanted my father to come because saying goodbye was too difficult for me to handle by myself. Well, my dad did end up coming to Trinidad twice that summer – once for vacation and the second time after I got sick. So while out sun-tanning with my friends, I was thinking that my brother would send Winair down to Trinidad with my dad. Of course all of this was irrational thought. Just like the song “Signal de plane” by Elephant Man, I thought somehow that they were going to signal the planes down south. I think this thought originated from the fact that my brother is a pilot and used to fly Winair at the time but when he was learning how to fly he would fly around Saba sometimes in a Cessna 172 and we would wave to him from our porch and sometimes he used to tip the wings of the airplane as if he were signalling that he was waving back hence “signal de plane” held some kind of deeper meaning to me.
By the time we left down the islands and went back to the mainland Trinidad I was further deep into psychosis but I’m not sure if anyone started to notice as yet. I don’t remember all the exact details as to a timeline or anything like that but I will tell you what I do remember. So the first night back to the mainland Trinidad, I never slept, I stood up and had all the energy in the world. I didn’t know what to do with myself. I just remember I had to tell my ex-boyfriend goodbye the next morning and I didn’t know how I was going to do that.
I had made a drawing for him and had it framed but I couldn’t pick it up from the framing store on time because I was down the islands, so I had a friend pick it up for me. At 5 AM in the morning, after having sat out on a bench in the park across the street from my neighbour’s house staring off at the moon, deep in thought, I thought that it was a good time to pick up the drawing so off I went ringing on the neighbour’s doorbell at such an odd hour. I did get the painting.
I went back to my apartment that I shared with two other girls and I’m not sure what I did next or how they found me but I think I was staring at the tv that wasn’t on, thinking in my head that I was watching an episode of the popular tv show “Friends”. I remember feeling like I was on a scavenger hunt and I had to find stuff and at one point I put on my roommate’s green dress which I grabbed from her dirty hamper because I loved the colour green and was going to get married that day in a green dress. Thankfully, it was all in my head. I got married in the dress of my dreams to the love of my life who supports me today, even through two psychotic episodes and can put up with me talking about the past.
When my roommate woke up, they started to realize that something was not right because one of them asked me why I had on their dress because it was dirty. By the time my ex-boyfriend had come to tell me goodbye I was worse. He brought doubles for me and I would not eat them. Doubles is like a soft doughy taco filled with curried chick peas better known as “channa” in Trinidad. When it came time to finally tell him goodbye, I would not kiss him good bye because in my head I never wanted to tell him goodbye. He didn’t understand at the time why I wouldn’t kiss him goodbye. He cried and of course in my state, I couldn’t understand why he was crying.
Well, my roommate had to go to work eventually and so there was no one to take care of me and thankfully they didn’t leave me by myself so I went to work with my roommate and I remember sitting in her office and at one point the phone rang and I answered it and I think I told the person on the other end that I was going to get married that day. Of course I didn’t know the real reason why I was there or what was going on behind the scenes. I thought I was there to get ready for the so called wedding.
Eventually my friends got me to the hospital under the guise that I was going to church to get married or so I thought in my head. I went to the community hospital of seventh day Adventists and the next thing I knew, I was being clapped with an injection of antipsychotics in my rear-end. Well that was the end to my little scavenger hunt and the fun and games for me. Above is the drawing which I did. Here’s a poem I wrote about that time in my life on November 27th 2009.
Always an observer, never a participant.
Heart denied until it no longer wants.
Frozen in time.
I only relive my memories.
The beauty exists in the twinkle of a star.
The magical aroma in the salt of the ocean.
Bring me back to the Gulf of Paria.
The calm of the ocean on a clear night.
Wind in my face, salt spray splashing intoxicating my mind.
The feeling of adventure, another venture “down d Islands”
Gasperee, I see not to far in the distance.
Always in my heart you will stay, frozen in time. There you will be mine.
Stay tuned for next week’s post where I discuss what it’s really like to use antipsychotics.