Saturday, March 28, 2015

Bad Dogs

Two things. Read an article on Chinua Achebe's death recently, even though he died a few years ago...it seems that the internet has a way of reinventing the wheel. Anyway, in a quote, he explained his theory for why he had a prolonged dry spell between his fourth and fifth book...trauma.

Two - just saw a story on the news where a mad woman...clearly she is a clean and tidily dressed mad woman....watched her dogs attack her neighbour's toddler, just stood there watching. To see those bandages and bruises on that poor child's sweet chubby legs...man.

I think about things I've done, experienced that some persons never will. Why? Cause, the likelihood is just not high.


For years I went to an expensive, private psychiatrist...since the beginning of my illness when I was 14 years old. He thought that a healthy body and diet would give me a healthy mind. So he generally spoke and I listened. He encouraged me to become a vegetarian, eat tofu, lose weight, meditate, take deep breaths, keep a journal. Some of the "training" I got from those sessions I utilize still. But, in general, I didn't enjoy going. Just saw it as routine. I got frustrated because I couldn't talk....he always monopolized the conversations. I guess because I started going as a child, he never realized I had become a woman and would have issues that went beyond the virtues of fish over beef and chicken. It wasn't until I made an appointment to see another private psychiatrist, one more well-known and left after waiting for four hours though I had made an appointment in advance; and went back to my regular doctor - I opened my mouth then. I spoke about how disillusioned I was about psychiatrists in Jamaica and how they view mental illness, how they treat us, the persons who have mental conditions and are under their care and treatment. I told him I felt small.

It was then he allowed me at times to talk about stuff on my mind. By that time I was in my mid twenties, still living with my family. When I started living on my own, I eventually stopped going to the shrink, as they rightly call them. Let's put the loonies in a nutshell and give them pills to pop.

So anyway....


It was 2012 and I was living on my own. I was stressed at work, madly in love and under pressure. My living situation was a nightmare. I moved to a semi bad neighbourhood - why? I knew the landlady, and I had once more reached neck level frustration, living with the 'rents. So, I took what I could get fast. This landlady rented me an apartment that she built to the side of her home and she had several family members and hangers-on living with her, including her incredibly insecure daughter and her incredibly insecure daughter's fiance. He was quite a character. He perhaps went a bit mad when I just moved there and took to going out  late at night and returning around the time I would wake up to get ready for work, let's say 5:45 6am. He would stay outside in the driveway which ran alongside my bedroom window and softly call to me. The words he would say I will leave to imagination. Now, in hindsight, I'm wondering if the daughter was "incredibly" insecure....anyway, he temporarily went mad. That must be it. His fiancee went berserk. She hated my guts, refused to talk to me, stalked him...it was fucking madness and stress. Not to mention that every man in the yard smoked ganja. My light was being "bridged" and when I reported the matter to the electricity company they did nothing because I always paid the bill. I did not like being there. Situations of prolonged stress like that are to be avoided by persons who are susceptible to breakdowns. Which is what happened to me as a result.


Bad dogs. I was looking for him in my madness. In that world - me, calling him over and over and over and over, being convinced that everything and anything meant him and me forever. That everything meant love. Sometimes the any and everything, was in my head...voices and sounds only I could hear. I ended up on the road he lived on around midnight or later. Where he lived was not a semi bad neighbourhood. It was a bad neighbourhood. But. I knew it a bit and at the time, I could have cared less. I had the phone to my ear, I don't even remember now if the phone was on or if the battery was dead. But it was at my ear and in my mind I was leaving him a voice message. I said to him....I'm very scared right now. I'm seeing a lot of dogs in front of me. Barking. (There were maybe 12 dogs.) I don't want to but I'm going to walk past them because I am going to find you. I see a girl beyond them, I will pass them and ask her if she knows where you are. I'm going to keep talking to you on this voice mail until I pass them though ok (name) because that's the only way I'll be able to do it.

I was wearing a lovely bright green dress and my hair had been recently bleached blonde and was short and cropped. The young girl ahead stood watching intently, wondering...I guess, what the hell I was about to do. The lane was brightly lit so we could see each other.
And I did it. The dogs were all in a line snarling. And as I walked forward, each one ran off, my footsteps never faltering as I clutched the phone to my ear talking. The last dog though was not amused and rushed me and I did swing at him with my bag - I was carrying a bag with food (another story). He ran off.

I reached the young girl. She stood there, pretty transfixed. I asked for her help in finding the man I was obsessed with. She said "I'm afraid." I was so bewildered by her answer, I asked "Of me?" She stood there, staring at me. Then took me to her mother's house.


I had been unable to write that down for 3 years. I was able to tell my best friend all about it one night via voice notes. But writing it down, this is a first. Would make a great poem?

When I read that Chinua Achebe said that after having to run for his life and safety from his homeland forever, he experienced a dry spell caused by trauma, I realized why I hadn't written about that experience with the dogs in the lane. Sometimes, when I blog the experience is akin to when a deeply hurting, silent person cuts herself. The remembrance brings tears. Sometimes I sob as I type. But today, this one...nothing running down my cheeks. Yet.

The experience with those dogs has made me a person with less fear. The episode like all of my psychotic episodes has two things: madness in my mind and God's protection all around me.


"It was then I carried you."

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