It is such a joy to open a hand written letter sent across from Indonesia after having my book tour and talk on Mental Health in February. What makes it even more special is that it comes from a woman older than my mother who has lived through many paths and experiences in life and is a painter herself. I thank such women for simply existing.
Like many feedback I have received before, I am not surprised to the confusion some readers have about the book. To me, that is the experience of schizophrenia in relation to the world around. To me, it is not necessary that we have to know exactly what makes schizophrenia what it is. I often wonder how I could have written my book any other way. Must I really write it in such a way that every person who reads it will get the perfect idea of what schizophrenia is?
But maybe that truly is the nature of what schizophrenia is. It is not for you or anyone to GET. Life is uncertain and there is beauty in the uncertainty of language and what we can’t give words to because it forces us to change our perception and understanding of things. It forces us to cultivate a different way of human connection. We cannot limit our understanding of life based on verbal or written language. And schizophrenia is forcing us to go beyond this.
I guess I wouldn’t write my book in any other way because it will imbibe the very emotions necessary to understanding schizophrenia…which is: making meaning and sense out of chaos and confusion.
The letter reads:
I’m not as good with words as you are. My story is simple and lacks the struggle you had to deal with. Trauma came your way and you are dealing with that in a way I can only admire. To me the book was confusing and an eye opener.
Very rarely people are able to get an insight in schizophrenia. You live in a world of constant impulses, which you try to silence through work of art (writing and painting).
At…I met a woman who managed to create space for herself through hard work. Somebody with the capacity to live with difficulties in an honest way. True to herself. Your speech that day created an atmosphere of togetherness. That is how I felt anyway. You have something to give and you mentioning acceptance will always be in my mind. In the hope I will be able to act accordingly when necessary.
Conclusion: The book is an unique insight into the turmoil and social challenges of people with schizophrenia, something which could happen to anyone. Not an easy read, but the symptoms are well written, including the perception of the medical system and how treatment really affects a person. Most people have little idea of how bad drug side-effects can be and the book is therefore a real challenge to medical establishments. Determination, tenacity and resilience illustrates a strong character with strong feminist and social justice views, giving a voice to many people without a voice.
All the best…