After Peter’s death, among his writings, I found a note he’d sent to a gallery curator about his life and art which gave me great comfort: “I am not a pessimist, because I know that all of us are constantly changing through the passage of time or from experience. I don’t know how long I have left to live but my existence has been a good experience rather than a bad one, even with the dreaded schizophrenia, so I am glad to be alive because all in all, it’s been a fucking blast.”
Why are people so secretive about mental illness – schizophrenia in particular – in a way they are not when a serious physical illness is involved? Why did my friends only speak to me about what had happened to them after Henry was diagnosed with schizophrenia, as if they could only expect sympathy and understanding from somebody similarly touched by a serious mental disorder?
I didn’t sleep at all that night. I felt paralyzed. My bedroom door had become the very end of my world, like the paper set Jim Carrey rows into in the final scene of The Truman Show. The noise came and went in waves, but it felt like someone, or something, had replaced my body and mind. It wasn’t me who was too scared to go to the bathroom to piss, so I decided to do it into an empty glass, spilling it all over the floor. It wasn’t me who threw all my bed sheets off, only feeling comfortable completely naked against the bare mattress. It wasn’t me who pressed the tip of a boxcutter into my heel to try and snap myself out of the despair. In that room, as the sun came up and my alarm went off for work, I thought, I need my mom.