The Other Me

The Other Me

‘Hello, Panic, My Old Friend’

You reach for anything you think might help when you get desperate enough, and I started to read. One book, by renowned medium James Van Praagh, resonated with me. He suggested that before you’re born your soul agrees to take on the problems it’ll face in life as a means of growth and evolution. Van Praagh said the soul never takes on more than it can bear. This became a mantra for me.

    The soul never takes on more than it can bear.
    The soul never takes on more than it can bear.
    The soul never takes on more than it can bear.

Still, like the last time, some part of me wanted to crack, because then I wouldn’t have to deal with everything. Maybe I’d become like Pat, oblivious. It just became his reality. Surely then there wouldn’t be anxiety about the anxiety. But, of course, Pat had been afraid of other things. Another part of me worried that even if I had a breakdown, some sane, rational part of me would always remain, trapped in some nook of my mind, observing what was going on and freaking out worse than ever, only now completely impotent.

Several times, the fear I was on verge of losing it grew overwhelming and I would ring Dr Jarasinghe. One time he told me if things were getting too bad, I should ring the crisis hotline. I did this once, and spoke with a woman. I asked her if I was heading for a nervous breakdown, and she told me she didn’t know – not the answer I wanted. She could’ve lied, couldn’t she? How hard would that have been? No, dear, it’s tough now, but you’ll get through this!

Another time, Dr Jarasinghe referred me to some crisis team. They sent out somebody the next day, a stocky, personable young Asian in his twenties named Minh. Minh came into the back room and talked to me for a while. Some of it was casual chat, some of it was searching questions, like what I saw in myself when I looked in the mirror. I didn’t know – not for sure. Maybe just somebody not very capable. He also asked me various questions about whether I heard voices and things like that; I told him no, but I worried obsessively about that happening. By the time we were finished he told me he didn’t see any evidence to my fears of psychosis. He asked me to come see him the following week at the little clinic where he worked.

Coincidentally, Alexandra from the Church of Scientology rang me around this time to check if I wanted to do another course. Now, because I was so bad, I told her about my anxiety, and she suggested the reason I was having these problems was because I didn’t have Scientology in my life. Because any answer would do (if it provided the right answer for me), I considered the course, but there was no way I was going to make it into the city. There was also another part of me that decided Scientology wouldn’t do me any good – not in this condition. I also resented Alexandra’s opportunism.

My mum decided to take me to an Orthodox faith healer. For three days in a row, my brother John would drive her and me to see this guy, who was located about fifteen minutes away. I would sit in the passenger seat, head rested against the window of the car, and lost to the world. The trip was more painful than the trip to the hospital the day I’d broken my arm.

The faith healer was in his fifties with white hair. He prayed over me for about ten minutes, sprinkled me with holy water, and had me drink a teaspoon of holy water. There was other stuff, but the details were a blur.

My brother John also suggested an acupuncturist, Mr Wu. I said I might find it hard to go to Mr Wu’s office, but my brother said that Mr Wu would come to me. I was more than happy to oblige. Happy. And still seeking answers.

I spoke to Mr Wu over the phone, where he asked me a series of questions. I didn’t understand the relevance of many of them – stuff like what did I prefer, hot weather or cold weather – but I answered them all. I didn’t need to understand.

Mr Wu came over weekly. Firstly, I would lie on my back, and he would stick pins in my shins, stomach, chest, and face. Then he would read for fifteen minutes. After that, he would pull the pins out, have me flip over, and stick the pins in my calves, back, arms, and in my head.

He also had me drink some herbs that were boiled and produced a horrible, muddy-tasting concoction that was meant to improve my mood. Mr Wu also suggested he wanted to wean me off western medicine – a scary proposition. Western medicine worked. Without it, what would I be? How would I function?

The following week after all this had begun, I went to see Minh at his clinic. Again – as had occurred when I’d visited Stan in the institution – I saw people who suffered from psychosis, who heard voices, or saw things that weren’t there. It was frightening but liberating. This was definitely not me.

Minh was pleased I’d ventured out (although it was only a five minute drive to his clinic), and we talked again for about ten minutes. When we were done, he said I didn’t need to see him again.

That was encouraging.

Maybe things weren’t as bad as they seemed.