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The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness by Elyn R. Saks
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“My good fortune is not that I've recovered from mental illness. I have not, nor will I ever. My good fortune lies in having found my life.”
Elyn R. Saks, The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness
“If you are walking on a path thick with brambles and rocks, a path that abruptly twists and turns, it's easy to get lost, or tired, or discouraged. You might be tempted to give up entirely. But if a kind and patient person comes along and takes your hand, saying, "I see you're having a hard time- here, follow me, I'll help you find your way," the path becomes manageable, the journey less frightening.”
Elyn R. Saks, The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness
“All my life, books had been the life raft, the safe haven, the place I ran to when nothing else worked.”
Elyn R. Saks, The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness
“Don’t focus on it,” she said. “Don’t define yourself in terms of something which even many highly trained and gifted professionals do not fully understand.”
Elyn R. Saks, The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness
“Dropping in and out of your own life (for psychotic breaks, or treatment in a hospital) isn’t like getting off a train at one stop and later getting back on at another. Even if you can get back on (and the odds are not in your favor), you’re lonely there. The people you boarded with originally are far, far ahead of you, and now you’re stuck playing catch-up.”
Elyn R. Saks, The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness
“But explaining what I’ve come to call “disorganization” is a different challenge altogether. Consciousness gradually loses its coherence. One’s center gives way. The center cannot hold. The “me” becomes a haze, and the solid center from which one experiences reality breaks up like a bad radio signal.”
Elyn R. Saks, The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness
“The humanity we all share is more important than the mental illnesses we may not”
Elyn R. Saks, The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness
“Or try this: Place yourself in the middle of the room. Turn on the stereo, the television, and a beeping video game, and then invite into the room several small children with ice cream cones. Crank up the volume on each piece of electrical equipment, then take away the children’s ice cream. Imagine these circumstances existing every day and night of your life. What would you do?”
Elyn R. Saks, The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness
“some truths that were too difficult and frightening to know.”
Elyn R. Saks, The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness
“I needed to put two critical ideas together: that I could both be mentally ill and lead a rich and satisfying life.”
Elyn R. Saks, The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness
“Nothing I can do. There will be raging fires, and hundreds, maybe thousands of people lying dead in the streets. And it will all—all of it—be my fault.”
Elyn R. Saks, The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness
“What I rather wish to say is that the humanity we all share is more important than the mental illness we may not. With proper treatment, someone who is mentally ill can lead a full and rich life. What makes life wonderful--good friends, a satisfying job, loving relationships--is just as valuable for those of us who struggle with schizophrenia as for anyone else.”
Elyn R. Saks, The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness
“That was when I learned that for all my good intentions, I could be simultaneously on the receiving and giving end of the stigma that goes along with mental illness.”
Elyn R. Saks, The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness
“Different bodies respond differently to different medication; finding the magic potion is pretty much hit-and-miss. This seems obvious, even simplistic, but it's the only consistently true fact in treating mental illness.”
Elyn R. Saks, The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness
“So the grades I earned were the only objective signal I ever received about how I was doing in the world. The task of setting and achieving academic goals operated as a sort of adhesive; I needed it to hold myself together. Failing (or, at least in this case, failing my own expectations) tore that adhesive off and further splintered my fragile sense of self.”
Elyn R. Saks, The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness
“A mental illness diagnosis does not automatically sentence you to a bleak and painful life, devoid of pleasure or joy or accomplishment. I also wanted to dispel the myths held by many mental-health professionals themselves—that people with a significant thought disorder cannot live independently, cannot work at challenging jobs, cannot have true friendships, cannot be in meaningful, sexually satisfying love relationships, cannot lead lives of intellectual, spiritual, or emotional richness.”
Elyn R. Saks, The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness
“I was afraid the staff would laugh at me—and as frightened as I was, the thought of derision frightened me even more. In retrospect, it was a life-threatening deception, somewhat along the lines of hiding recurrent chest pains from one’s cardiologist from embarrassment. Nearly”
Elyn R. Saks, The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness
“If you are a person with mental illness, the challenge is to find the life that's right for you. But in truth, isn't that the challenge for all of us, mentally ill or not? My good fortune is not that I've recovered from mental illness. I have not, nor will I ever. My good fortune lies in having found my life.”
Elyn R. Saks, The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness
“How many times, I wondered, would I have to deal with the betrayal of this mass of nerves and blood vessels and muscle and skin?”
Elyn R. Saks, The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness
“Law is based on a theory of personhood; that is, the concept of someone who can make choices and suffer consequences, and who understands the threat of sanction. The doctrine of informed consent (indeed, most of American political theory) presumes that we are not just subjects to be directed, but rather autonomous beings capable of making independent decisions.”
Elyn R. Saks, The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness