I am 67 years old and have lived, with varying degrees of success, with mental illness for 55 years. I am blessed and cursed by what psychiatrists call Insight. I describe Insight as an awareness and understanding that symptoms are not “real” or are inappropriate responses to a situation/relationship. Insight is a curse because it does nothing to change or alter the duration or intensity of symptoms. It’s like a tiny, mostly powerless, part of me is aware that I am symptomatic. Insight is a curse because it increases my anxiety and suffering. Due mainly to Insight, I never had legal problems associated with my illness and was only hospitalized once (voluntarily.)
My working life included 6-7 years working in custom photographic labs and approximately 9 years working with young children. I developed a professional reputation for managing toddlers that resulted in my being recruited for training as a Montessori teacher. I was one of the first two men in the United States to take AMS (American Montessori Society) Infant/Toddler Training.
My last and best job was helping supervise an Adventure Play playground offered to Elementary age children at a public Elementary School. It is my understanding that, at the time, our Adventure Play playground was one of three, or four, Adventure Play Playgrounds in the United States.
Adventure Play evolved from the observation after WW2 that children preferred to play in bombed out areas or vacant lots with construction materials instead of professionally designed playgrounds. The children built ramps, forts, and villages out of scrap lumber. Our playground provided plywood, lumber, hammers and nails among many other things. In order to attend the program, children became citizens by building their own club houses and keeping the area around them safe and clean. Adventure Play became an international movement and seems to be currently going through a new resurgence. Using “Adventure Play Movement” in your search engine will provide more detail.
I was married for 18 years and had three sons. Two inherited a variant of my disorder, but went on to graduate from prestigious colleges. My oldest son became a Marine late in life. I live with my ex-wife and 91 year old father.
The impetus for Lockdown was my disappointment with both the book and film Girl Interrupted. I differ from the protagonist of Girl Interrupted in that my primary diagnosis was initially Bipolar Disorder Type 1. This diagnosis evolved into Schizoaffective Disorder: Bipolar Type. Like the protagonist of Girl Interrupted I had a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) for a period of time. Lockdown examines BPD in much greater detail than Girl Interrupted.
The first draft of Lockdown was written between 2006-9. It totaled 1100 pages and does not include events after 2010. Lockdown begins near the middle of my story with a series of vignettes that occurred when I was hospitalized in 1998. Lockdown covers a broad range of topics. These topics include-
- Descriptions of events just before, during and after my voluntary committment.
- My Experiences with Therapy
- My Childhood Symptoms
- Recreational Drugs and a Psychotic break
- Pre-psychiatric Care
- Psychiatric Care in the Public Healthcare System
- Borderline Personality Disorder Misdiagnosis
- Returning to Reality after 14 Years of Being Ill
- Sex and Trauma
- How My Symptoms Affected My Relationships
- Religious Experience
- Private Care
- Sexual Addiction
- Episodic Memory Loss
- Elder Care
- Getting Old
I have tried to be as frank, honest and descriptive as possible. This may trigger some individuals. My writing style evolves as my condition improves.
John Eugene Panic