Continued from last week's blog ...
So the first thing I did was to choose the title of my book, Mercy Lord Mercy. Considering all I had been through, mercy - as in God's Mercy - had certainly intervened. Without it, I would have surely taken a cold, hard plunge into the San Francisco Bay one night when the desperate need to fly had overcome reality and my need for self-preservation.
But now, here I was in my late fifties - 25 years later - healthy, happy, and self-reliant, surrounded by young people eager to discover themselves through creative writing, and I ready to turn my nutty, already discovered life, into something that might help others.
At 32, I had experienced a complete mental breakdown resulting in a classification of "acute schizophrenic episode of a paranoid variety." I was officially crazy and completely out of touch.
While I had likely inherited the genes from my father, the trauma of my early life had set me up for the need to escape. And escaping when one can't distinguish truth from fiction, illusion from fact led me from one dangerous adventure to another over a period of six years or more. It wasn't until everything I had thought was real began to unravel one night that I realized how much trouble I was in. And, miraculously, others saw that too.
At the time of my greatest need, kind and talented people held onto me, listened to me, put up with my screams and bizarre behavior. Over a period of weeks in the hospital, they grounded and protected me, helped me realize that I wanted to live, and showed me the fragile beginnings of a pathway out of my madness.
So the writing course provided the structure and support for turning my experiences into chapters. I would write at night while flying the friendly skies and once a week I'd share my harrowing adventures with fellow students. At fifty something, I was grateful to be alive. I was also grateful for the community of writers that listened to one another as if each others' stories mattered.
"Mercy Lord Mercy" by Catherine E. Goin was published in 2013. My hope for the book is that it will help those with mental illness as well as their caregivers see the possibility of healing at the time of crisis and the divine mercy that dwells both in us and beyond. It is available through Amazon.com.