Mental Illness? or - Salvation                                                               Copyright ©2014 Hazel Gay

Hazel Gay's To Heal the Broken-Hearted (Chronicle of a woman's 18 year journey through "mental illness" to healing, wholeness and transformation.)
Chapter 11 All quotes used with written permission.

        In May I decided to try something different when I couldn’t go to sleep – sleeping pills. I don’t know why it had never occurred to anybody.  I made a point of keeping 30 mg Dalmane. 
       (I’ve learned in the last few years that I have a paternal cousin and a maternal cousin who, like me, if they miss one night’s sleep, can’t go to sleep without sleeping pills. 
       That summer I got a job at a public library 30 miles away and continued writing and reading. I started singing professionally two nights a week.  I stopped seeing Jess;  I would not see him for a year. 
       My oldest daughter told me, “I feel like I or somebody I’m close to will have very strong psychic experiences during my lifetime.  I’m afraid of it.” 
       I could not understand the fear… 

February 7, 1978
       About two years ago something happened and it’s taken me till now to figure out what was wrong with it.  Talking at the table at DBD, I had told you about a painful experience and ended with “It hurts.”  You immediately pounced on me and told me to substitute “I” for “it.”  I did but was uncomfortable about it and I’ve finally figured out why. 
       I used to be a teacher of deaf children and I probably spent more time on pronouns than anything else.  “It” is particularly difficult for them.  I used to be quite visual when we worked on pronouns.  Maybe you’ve thought of it since but I doubt it.  Since I can’t remember the original statement that brought on your reaction, I will use an example from writing during one of my altered states. 
       “I like the feeling of bra-less but I need an athletic supporter to run.  It hurts.” 
       For the deaf children, I circled “it” and asked someone to draw a line to what “it” was talking about.  Fritz Perls notwithstanding, this is what happens, “…But I need an athletic supporter to run.  It hurts.”  (Me, implied)  When I say “It hurts” I mean IT – the action or experience.  “It (running) hurts (me).”  You thought, because someone told you in graduate school that was the way it was, that I was trying to “depersonalize” my pain so you assumed you knew more about what I meant than I did – enough that you could correct me. 
       I tried to call you Monday morning and realized you were closed.  I use “You” individually and specifically there.  It wasn’t urgent but I wanted to talk to you about a dream I’ve had twice in the past month that disturbed me.  Though the details are different, it’s one of the consistent delusions during my episodes with the same basic structure.  I had been writing pretty intensively. Someone asked me if I could make it more clear what it’s like to be delusional.  Trying to get past “It’s like trying to explain ‘red’ to a congenitally blind person” the only thing I could think of was to find an analogy to something within the experience of the never been delusional person. I tried a fantasy of another because one doesn’t have control over another’s fantasy  (Indicates my idea of what fantasy was at the time, that I had control of the one fantasy Jess had led me on.) then went to dreams.  I was kind of stumped there and allowed that idea to mull over in my mind.  It was shortly after that I dreamed my delusion.  Needless to say, I want to investigate the relationship between delusions, dreams, fantasy and imagination. 


June 1978
       For the past two days I’ve been reading in a book that came across my desk at the library, Epileptology: Proceedings of the 7th International Symposium on Epilepsy, 1975, two articles in particular about “alternative psychosis.”  From what I can understand my mother is a prime candidate for that.  She has temporal lobe epilepsy, was virtually seizure free for a time, started petit mal seizures and was diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic  six years after the onset of epilepsy.   
       According to one article, some of the anti-epileptic drugs contribute to the onset of  psychosis. 
       Yes, my mother had one sister who died a few days after being put in a state mental  institution in Texas.  I was told an autopsy revealed a brain tumor. 
        (2014, a cousin who has the extremely rare hereditary diabetes insipidus in our Harbour line, 
        told me a different story: That my aunt also had diabetes insipidus and since at that time no 
        one knew why people in the family drank so much water, she didn’t know what caused it, 
        and had decided to stop drinking so much water. After a few days of insufficient water –

        (dehydration) – and you know what happens so she wound up at the mental hospital. There’s a
        possibility she might have been kept from what would have been for her, sufficient water since
        they would have  no idea. While working on genealogy, I found her death certificate that gives
       cause of death as cerebral hemorrhage.) 
 Yes, another of my mother’s sisters died two days after being put into a state mental institution in Oklahoma.  I was told an autopsy showed a ruptured gall bladder, in layman’s terms, so she would have died of peritonitis. 
       One of my sister’s delusions stuck in my mind:  “I thought somehow, with what I had been through, I had broken a HEX on our family.”  As you know, I don’t get hung up on the WORDS of a delusion but “hex” is intriguing.  Is it not in social reality a HEX when the psychiatric profession pronounces 75% of one’s family schizophrenic???!! 
       My sister’s episode had a traumatic effect on me, causing me to completely dedicate myself to my feeling of “purpose,”- whatever it is. 
       Do you recall my hypnogogic vision, of seeing myself crawling into the construct representing schizophrenia that exploded from around me?  Maybe I did.  I went into my last two trips rather purposefully.  Without that, I, and the world, would have considered me schizophrenic the rest of my life.  However, at the time I related that to you, I was hoping it meant something bigger. 
       Probably most professionals would write all this off as wishing and inacceptance of reality. 
Perhaps.  But have you read The Crack in the Cosmic Egg?  The author poses the idea that we create our reality by just that….IDEAS….. 


(In 1988, the head of Oregon Mental Health, a psychiatrist, told me they 
no longer make the diagnosis of schizophrenia in the presence of epilepsy.)


        Jess went on sabbatical for an extended period somewhere about this time and traveled around Europe. He flew to Amsterdam and one of the first things he did was go to the Van Gogh Museum. Upon his return he took me to lunch and spent a little over two hours telling me about his travels. (I don’t have the exact date on this.) 

June 1978    Dream 
I’m in theatre, standing in the doorway to an auditorium, listening.  I leave to go to the bathroom. I’m leaning in corner, start feeling myself becoming psychotic.  I start fighting it, saying “No, no, I won’t,”  and as I open the door to get out, a little squirrel runs up to me.  Instead of being afraid of me, he runs up and licks my finger.  He’s had some kind of accident, one side has been ripped up but it’s beginning to heal.  A couple of times he acts faint and I think, “No, you can’t die.”  He opens his eyes and starts moving again;  is still alive as I wake up. 

June 1978    Dream 
       I’m in foreign country.  A very tall building is being built;  I can’t tell what it’s going to be yet, something about a lot of windows.  I write a poem in my dream, two lines I remember: 
       “I don’t know what you’re going to be when you’re done but I’m willing to wait and see, by gum!” and woke up.

June 1978
        My oldest daughter had her second child, again with complications necessitating a C-section. She’d been concentrating on relaxing and had slowed her heartbeat so much that her doctor gave her something to speed it up. During surgery she had to be resuscitated and had some kind of experience that made a lasting impression on her. 
        While leaving after visiting her, I accidentally wandered onto the psychiatric unit and was going on down the hall before I realized where I was.  The double doors I had just come through were locked.  Though I was shocked to see a psychiatrist I recognized at the nurses’ station, the humor of the situation was not lost on me as I told him, “This is the first time I’ve ever been able to tell a psychiatrist to push that button to let me out and he would.” 

July 31, 1978    2:30 a.m.   
       Woke experiencing intense feeling of being watched.             

Part of dream:  I’m turning wall switch on for electric lights;  lights very dim;  turn on lamp by bed; very dim.  I’m in mother’s bedroom in our house in my hometown;  turn lamp switch on and off a few times;  light gets a little brighter but still not bright enough to read the handwritten letter I have in my hand.  Head of bed is at the window on south wall;  I lie down.  Have letter in hand waiting for electricity to come up so I can see to read it.  I hear something outside and get paralyzing fear that some unknown one is watching me through window;  woke with that fear. 


        Subjective difference in “feeling” in head.  Decided not to work on my writing at night, go to sleep early and get up earlier in the morning to work on it.  That way I wouldn’t get so wound up with the thinking and concentration that I wouldn’t be able to go to sleep;  utilize the “energy” I was feeling;  keep it under control.  Strange ideas started to pop up the next few days, strange coincidences, made notes, example: 

       About 10:00 Wednesday night I was sitting on the couch thinking about the “feeling” I had during the extreme altered state of ’71, of my father’s “presence”  in the room with me.  I got in touch with that good feeling for a few moments then went on to something else.  A few minutes later I went into the bedroom. On the floor by the foot of a bed lay a photo of my father, one I had not seen for a long time;  just a few weeks before I had wondered where the picture was. I picked it up, the one of him in uniform sitting on a rock by the sign that reads, “Cripple Creek Gold District.” 

August 2
        Didn’t sleep well;  got up by 5:30.  2 mg. Stelazine – just in case, want to retain “energy state” not eradicate it, control it, not have it control me, take advantage of it.  Didn’t fool around with going to sleep;  took Dalmane, was asleep by 10:00. 

August 3
        Getting to be freaky day in relation to coincidences;  maintained.  Got the news today that my son had been charged with Burglary I.  My son – that no agency and no person had had time to help.  I remembered a “delusion” I’d had during the episode of fall ’76 about an “evil” ring of youth in a specific area, cops investigating everything in that area, etc.  This was precisely what happened – with my son right in the middle of it. 

August 4
       Woke at 7:10, first time all night.  Woke in alert state;  day off.  2 mg. Stelazine, my last. 

August 5
        Got up at 6:45;  felt good most of day;  thinking slowed. 

August 10
        During the past week I have not been experiencing the extreme body tension I’ve been having the past few months. 


Fall 1978
        My youngest daughter and I were talking about some of the events during my altered states. When I mentioned having thought I was carrying on a conversation with the TV, she said, “One of my friends was over.  I told her, ‘Let’s leave.  I can see why she’s crazy. When she’s saying things then the TV talks back to her!’  I had to leave cause I knew I’d be crazy if I stayed and listened to that!” 
       So it had really happened like I thought.  This also happened once at Dammasch while three of us were watching TV.  Two women who had never had a psychotic day in their life were in the room.  I was trying to explain what had happened with the TV when I noticed something being said on TV that fit right into our conversation. 
       “Like that,” I said.  “Just listen!” and for the next few minutes we had the same kind of scary experience, carrying on what sounded like a conversation with the TV, till all three of us decided that was enough, in fact, too much.  One woman went home the next morning.  “If I stay in here, I will go crazy!”  The other wanted to leave but was in for 30 day alcohol rehab. 
       The “consensus of reality” says that kind of thing can’t happen, only coincidence.  A few things, coincidence, OK.  But sustained coincidence?  Now I know I’m never going to see any UFO’s, read anybody’s mind, or have any prophetic dreams, even though I think they’re possible. They’re just not possible for ME!  I’m too rational.  
(Written in 1978.) 
       Yet I carry on seeming conversational interchange with the TV!  I’ve never heard of that. It took me two years to get to the place where I can ALLOW THE POSSIBILITY there may have been some kind of “unusual event” taking place in reality.  Why is it so necessary I UNDERSTAND what’s going on?  I don’t understand the way my eyes work or how my mind works yet I don’t doubt they work.  I don’t even know for sure where my mind IS but it doesn’t scare me to use it;  I simply ACCEPT it. 


        I was never able to tell Jess that apparently my feelings about him had interfered critically with my sex life for over two years, from when I had recognized the feelings till sometime in 1978. 
       I resumed therapy with Jess in the fall of ’78 after being out a year. When I called him to ask about resuming therapy he had asked, “Do you have any objectives in mind?” 
        “Hmmm,” I answered. “I hadn’t thought of specific objectives. At least for instance, I can’t say I want to change me in any specific way. If I keep some goal out there in front of me, then I might be limiting myself, might be blinded to any hidden or unknown-at-this-time growth or learning potentialities. I want to keep it open; I want to LEARN something; I want to see where I go. There have always been a lot of surprises in our sessions. Sometimes you lead, sometimes you follow, but it’s always an hour of discovery.” 
       Jess tried, oh, how he tried… 
       Sitting on a mat on the floor with his back against the wall, he had me lean on him, kind of across him, like a baby, facing him to let him support me physically.  I could not believe how long it took for him to make me understand he wanted me to cease holding myself up with my hand I had placed on the floor, to let him hold me up.  Below language level, I vaguely knew there was perhaps a critical concept involved. 

December 1978
        Working intensely on my writing, I had periods lasting for days in which I stayed extremely hot, no fever, just felt hot.  Even at work I stayed hot.  A spell would last a few days, stop for a few days and start again;  my doctor couldn’t find anything wrong with me.  In late December I had a presentable copy.   
       When I gave it to Jess sitting upstairs, I felt that place in my middle as so – still?  So – calm? An extreme calm…I didn’t know what I felt.  I had no more hot spells. 
       That was the first time ANYONE read it. 

       Two weeks later I had an emotional reaction driving to work one morning when I heard on the radio that a congresswoman from Portland had just initiated an investigation of Dammasch. 

December 28, 1978
       Driving home from work the usual way, I turned to go through Clackamas a few minutes before six.  As I was turning the car out onto the street and at the moment I was facing the northeast, it was as if a flash of light went off in my head – not in the environment.  It didn’t interfere with my driving so I continued around the turn.  Feeling…then words…,”disaster,” “area,” “catastrophe.”  I thought, “I wonder what happened at home today?” since I was used to disasters meeting me at home.  About 7:30 that night I was sitting in a pizza place when someone came in telling about a DC-8 that had just crashed on Burnside in Portland, killing 10 people. I was stunned.  They were in trouble and circling when I faced the exact direction of the crash. Later I learned the house where the plane went down was owned by the man who had bought our farm. He’d been working in the house that was hit.  He told me, “All of a sudden, I wanted some peanuts so I went to the store.  I was on my way back when I saw the plane go down and hit the house.” 

       There was only one time Jess used “should” and “ought” to me.  I went for two nights without sleeping and had no medication of any kind.   I didn’t have a phone and as I was becoming too exhausted to keep going to town to the pay phone trying to catch Jess in, I called Jack at work and had him call till he caught Jess.  The next time I talked to Jess I could hear a strained intensity as he said, “You shouldn’t have had him call;  it’s not his place to call for you.  YOU ought to have called.” 

       “Going east driving home the other day, looking at Mt. Hood and the Cascades out there in front of me, I felt such a freeing emotion,” I told Jess.  “Suddenly, I didn’t have to know what would happen to me after I died;  the events or lack of events.  There didn’t have to be a heaven or hell;  it didn’t have to be any of the possibilities I could come up with.  Whatever it is I believe in will take care of it;  I no longer had to be concerned about it.  Whatever happens, it will be ALL RIGHT!” 


        I started wondering when ideas start popping into my head 90 miles an hour if moments, like the day Jess said he liked me as a PERSON, would help slow, contain them?  Those things he said that day made me seem to stop “thinking” – “I” seemed less abstract;  became so aware of my body as being “real,”  very solid. 

January 1, 1979     9:30 p.m.                                   
        Remembering when I had opened my Webster’s at random Spring ’74 to Rosetta Stone, I got my new one, held it up in a closed position with the spine resting on the table, closed my eyes and trying to blank my mind out, dropped my thumbs on it and opened where they fell.  When I opened my eyes I saw “Rosh Hashanah” (Jewish New Year) – six words down from Rosetta Stone.

January 15, 1979     Dream 
Two men strangers had put a curse on “us,” people in house, not particularly my family.  The men are not in the house with us.  Storm starts and a draft is coming from basement on through upstairs – somehow house is going to catch fire.  I think if I can close something metal like a damper in a chimney-like thing in the upstairs it will stop wind from going through and save the house.  Electricity is off;  candles being used.  Everyone is afraid to go upstairs;  they’re sure house is going to burn.  I go upstairs and see some candles are blowing out up there.  Very clearly I see the candles and the metal thing to close.  The candle in my hand goes out as I reach upstairs.  I try lighting it on candle already there.  It almost goes out, then flickers back to life, stays lit.  I close the metal thing and the wind stops going through the house;  we’re saved. 

        Someday I will get the nerve to do what I’ve wanted for a long time, cut a hole in my jeans that will fit right over my birthmark on my right hip (size of half-dollar, dark brown with longish black hairs) then just walk down the street. There’s got to be someone who has to wonder, “Is it all like that?” 
        In January I started reading about hologram model of brain.
        In the spring of ’79 I entered a relationship with a man against my better judgment;  he was VERY persistent and I didn’t want to “hurt his feelings.”  He was the first man with a personal interest to take me out to dinner during which we had actual intelligent conversation.  And I didn’t have to tell him where to sit.  He didn’t get bent out of shape about it if I weren’t in the mood for sex – my first experience with a man like that.  I wasn’t about to get married again and I kept ignoring the knowledge there was no way the relationship could last. 

        My son-in-law was listening as a man and I had a conversation. It became an argument about whether a certain item could be used in a particular process. I said it could and started to reach for a book I had to prove what I had said. My son-in-law said, “You might as well forget it. She just changes the words on the page to make them say what she wants.” 

       Jess left for New York to work on his doctorate the summer of ’79.  I didn’t tell him goodbye or wish him good luck or even say, “See you around.”  I kind of drifted out of his life before he left. 
       I didn’t enter into therapy with another therapist. 


August 1979
        Little did I know what awaited me in an old haunted plantation house down south.  When I went to see my sister out of Jackson, Mississippi, we got the things out of my father’s footlocker she had stored in her attic.  A copy of my birth certificate was still in it. 
       I had written a paragraph many years before about my name, to explain the confusion surrounding it: 

       “My uncle named me Hazel – just Hazel.  I was Hazel Gay till the state of Oklahoma notified my parents that I had to have three names.  However, the state didn’t bother to ASK my  parents what name they wanted to add.  The state informed my parents that my third name was Ruby – my mother’s first name.  So I became Ruby Hazel Gay.  My original birth certificate has an affidavit attached to it showing that Hazel Gay and Ruby Hazel Gay are the same person. How’s that for setting one up for a schizoid personality?” 

       Well, that was the way my mother told it and had always told it.  For the first time in my life, an intelligent person not brainwashed with my mother’s story looked at the birth certificate and said, “That’s not what this says,” and pointed out why.  He had to point it out a number of times before I believed it.  The original birth certificate reads: 

       Name of child:   Ruby H. Gay 
       The affidavit very plainly states:  “To correct or amend birth record: 
       Name of child: 
       The record shows:  Ruby H. Gay 
       The facts were:  Hazel Gay 
       All my life I had heard my mother’s version of what happened.  The affidavit had been filed in December ’42, meaning my birth certificate had been corrected, my name had legally been ONLY Hazel Gay since.  She had signed the affidavit in front of a notary public just after my father left for the army.  I was not quite four years old, my brother was 19 months and my sister was four months old.  In those circumstances, I guess something had gotten confused in my mother’s mind.  All my life I had filled out all my legal papers Ruby Hazel Gay, switching it to Hazel Ruby when I got sick of everyone calling me Ruby. 
       Everyone in the family agreed that was what the affidavit meant – EXCEPT MY MOTHER!! When the shock wore off, about two hours later, it felt so clean, so good, so finished.  I felt so finished.  The big picture of my father had been brought down from my sister’s dark attic where she kept it and was leaning against the mantel looking out over the room…. 
       On the way back to Portland I visited in my home town for the first time in 18 years.  At Las Vegas I sang three of my own songs at a lounge in the Sahara Hotel. 
       My son, aged 17, and I were sitting in a McDonald’s in Las Vegas when he said, “I feel like God wants me to do something, to teach people the right way to go, it’s almost like God talks to me sometimes…”  As I listened I saw tears welling up in his eyes; I saw such an intensity, a depth.  I had NEVER discussed my own feelings about this with him. 
       Continuing my job at the public library, I returned to Las Vegas in October to sing.  I had had piano arrangements made for two of my songs. One I had written as a result of driving beside the Sierra Nevada Mountains and the effect the early morning scene had had on me. 

If you would like to hear it click here Sunrise on the Sierra Nevada ©1979 Hazel Gay 
December 1979     Dreams 
       Some kind of “invasion” from outer space. I was going deeper into a building, not to escape the invasion, but to discover the secrets of something;  kept going to deeper levels. 

        Had childhood recurrent dream of rising from ground again for the first time in a long time.   

       Dream I’m going to have baby. 


Experience intermittent feeling of impending death. 

January 1980     Dream 
       I left some things at the Jacobsen apartment, am there, apologize to Mr. J.  My father’s footlocker is over in a corner which is what I came to get, the only thing that made me come back. Seems there are some 2×4’s on fire (referencing carly childhood developmental stage?) and I help him carry them out; then turn the water from a faucet on one. 

       In January my ex-husband and I sold the contract on our farm. 

Continued experiencing feeling of impending death. 

January 1980
        One of the limited number of people I allowed to read my manuscript suggested I organize it by subject, a chapter about my experiences with mental illness, a chapter about my son, and so on.  I think I objected to that idea more than any.  My life is not like a pie, to cut into neat slices; my life is more like a bowl of soup. 
       I would need to invent an art form if I wanted to adequately convey my feeling of not wanting to divide my life into isolated segments.  The human is not like the pictures in the textbooks, the ones with the clear plastic overlays;  lift one page and you isolate the circulatory system; lift another and you remove the muscular system; lift one more for the nervous system and so on.  We don’t come apart like that. 
       Oh, have they made a clear plastic overlay yet for the part of me the psychiatrist is trying to “treat?” 

       I’ve been reading about men experimenting with hallucinogenics and isolation tanks. From what I can tell, it’s basically the same motivation for what I did my last two trips. No, I had even more motivation and mine is more personal.  One basic difference, they took drugs so they could play with their mind while I, on the other hand, refused to take drugs that would prevent my playing with my mind.  They, however, were certified, accredited and affiliated.  Must I go to school as defined by our society, get a magical piece of paper that transforms me by stating, “NOW you are a SCIENTIST,” a magical piece of paper that touches my little hot, sweaty palm thereby sending a nerve impulse to a switch in my body. The switch turns “ON.” NOW I can be CURIOUS.  NOW I can study my body sensations. NOW I can take notes.  NOW I can have VALID EXPERIENCE.   
       As it is, without the accreditation and affiliation, I’m only “certifiable.” 

       A TV show about scientists working with moose showed them giving a moose something for acidosis caused by the stress of being chased by the helicopter.  I thought of the times just before or during altered states when I rinsed my mouth with baking soda in water in an attempt at alleviating the feeling of acidity in my mouth.  Also drank it since I “felt” my body was in a highly acidic condition. 

January 28, 1980 Dream Fragment 
I manage to get a railroad boxcar to the track by myself somehow where someone else connects it to the train. Tells me to sit in the front seat like cab of truck so I can warm up while someone else drives. 

February 1980
        Extremely sick with what was diagnosed as Hong Kong flu, the first time in my life I’d had anything like that, I had such a feeling of impending death I made a will.  During the flu I had an emergency D&C since the hormones I’d started were affecting me adversely.  Four weeks later I had a partial hysterectomy and bladder repair. 
       The doctor had done a pubic catherization and after the surgery I was watching as the young nurse pulled it out.  It looked like Old Faithful as urine spurted up.  I couldn’t keep from laughing.  The look on that young girl’s face was priceless, such shock.  Her first reaction was applying pressure with her hand, like I was bleeding.  I laughed harder and harder.  She reached for some gauze pads, but by that time urine was all over me, the bed and her and I was about to fall out of bed laughing.  Still with the funniest look on her face she said, “I’ve never taken one of these out before;  I guess I should have told you to go to the bathroom first.” 
       One of the nurses had given me instructions about how to regain bladder function. “Don’t go when you first feel you want to, hold it as long as you can before you go.”  I tried that.  After holding it as long as I could, I could release only part of it.  I decided to follow my feelings.  As soon as I had the first impulse to go, I went.  They were astonished at how fast I regained bladder function!  They don’t know to this day how I did it. 

March 1980
        My oldest daughter laughingly said, “I think you have this spirit that just follows you around, from house to house.”