This foreword was loosely based on the initial opening "rant" of the book (here)before chapter one. "Are You Awake Yet" will be more like "Sophie's World" than many other books, with thought experiments and philosophy as well as a story. It is dedicated to all the wonderful people I have been blessed to meet who suffer from psychosis. Above all else, you are people with light and gentle souls, people who don't just know when things are wrong, you feel it too.
In my nightmares I am trapped in a mental ward. I can’t move my hands without feeling the restriction of the straps. My head is as clear, no trace of the “madness.” I strain against the black polyester with every ounce of strength and still I can’t budge. My back hurts right from the base of my spine to the tail bone. Saliva is pooling in the back of my mouth. The staff have gone. I am alone. Heart pounding ready to explode, my eyes scan left and right for signs of someone coming to help. No-one. Worn green curtains hang limp on flaking chrome rings and though the gap passers by pay me no attention at all.
I am back in my personal hell. A cheap analogue clock ticks loudly on a nearby wall, each second marked. I need to turn, I need to swallow and mindless squirming won’t help - so I think of watching the show” 24,” what would Jack Bauer do? I turn in the thumb of my right hand, fold it in as flat as possible and pull, not caring if it dislocates. My hand comes right out. Then I do the same with the left. Even with two hands free it isn’t enough, I can’t turn. If I sit up I may be caught and re-tied too tight for this little trick to work a second time. I point my right foot so hard the muscles become painful and I twist it until it is free, but my left is bound too tight. I twist, some relief for my back and easier to swallow. A nurse comes and says “Oh, I see they untied you.” I agree and manage a staged smile, she unstraps my last leg and I turn to my side. I’m sure Bauer would be out of here by now, armed and dangerous, but not me. I’m a pacifist, scared of the “professional care” that leaves me scarred on the inside. The bleach tinctured ward fades and the nightmare intensifies to the next level.
I am in a windowless room and the exit is blocked by a security guard. Despite the light overhead it is dim compared to the stronger illumination of the unreachable hallway. The man is dressed in a black and white uniform, ethnically Indian and with a neat trimmed beard. He isn’t big by any means, but without a doubt stronger than my hundred and twenty pound form. He never averts his gaze, just stares, even as I plead with them not to remove my clothing in front of a man. The faces of my attackers are intense, focused on removing every item of cloth that protects me from the onlooker. Hands grasp at the fabric of my pink pajamas and pull down sharply while others hold me upright. I can’t turn, I can’t hide, I can’t protect my modesty. My chest is now fully exposed. There is a look on the guard’s face, behind the faux-professional demeanor he’s excited - sexual pleasure. I see it for just a fraction of a second before I’m forced face down by the groping hands and injected, the nightmare fades again, setting the stage for one more round.
No longer is the door open, no bright light comes from the hallway. No handle, no way out. Four concrete walls, a linoleum floor, a toilet with no paper and a bare mattress - this “seclusion room” is a prison cell by another name. A steel-blue gown falls to my knee, fabric distressed by so much wear yet still rough. There is nothing to hold my mind or attention. Outside this room could be anything, anyone. There is nothing even to mark time. Would someone come in five minutes or five hours? Would I know the difference? The panic is no less than with the straps, trapped is trapped.
Disembodied eyes peep through the only window, a mean rectangle of glass in the flat iron door. I ask to be let out. I try to reason with them, show how sane I am. Nothing works. The anxiety that was being kept at bay begins to win. My voice gets higher, but I’m not just terrified, I’m angry too. I hit the door, a mistake. More of that and they’ll be back in with more needles. I swallow the rising bile and sit on the mattress, feeling the cold floor right through it. No noise. No movement. Only a complete display of passivity will get me out. Time to meditate. Time to bury my screams in my bones, shut my eyes, empty my head. The only way out is inhuman levels of self control and a “professional” demeanor. It works. The staff are confused. They take it as sanity, can’t understand how I have “recovered” so fast. Even the doctors don’t understand it. I am fully lucid. I can hold sensible conversations, smile and read magazines, or at least pretend to. I’m too angry to focus on the words but so long as my eyes skim and pages turn every few minutes, they won’t know the difference. I collect my release paper and exit the ward without even a prescription for medication. Sane people don’t get medicated. To prove I’m crazy they’d have to learn some new tricks, like mind reading, but with technology like that around I’d be the least of their worries...
This part of the nightmare took me months to get to. So often I’d wake up in a cold sweat, grasping at my duvet to prove I wasn’t really back there. Didn’t I say all that really happened? I guess it’s more PTSD than anything else. I guess it morphs into a dream of sorts. God tells me not to worry, just to put one foot in front of the other and everything will turn out alright. He says not to tell these “medics” He is speaking to me, that this is the dark ages where no angel of His word is safe. He says He will stay with me always, but He will only speak when I ask Him to, He doesn’t want to drive me into the “care” of those “professionals” again.
When I wake I check to see if He is still there, and He is. He’s always there when I need Him, able to talk to me, to tell me the answers I need to know, the ones that keep me sane. He is the antidote to my anxiety, my reason to keep trying to do the impossible, to achieve the “psychotic” dream and save His world. It isn’t a dream of unicorns and rainbows, it’s closer in feel to those episodes of 24, but without a whole team for technical support and tactics. All around me is chaos, carnage, unhappiness and potential disaster. At least for relief I can abandon the internet, the media, retreat into my home. My dream is to help Him achieve heaven on earth, to honor The Lord’s Prayer, to attempt the impossible, to find the right path in the contemporary maze that is our era.
I am the most sane crazy person on earth, unmedicated, unable to turn off from what is around me. Without the mind filters regular people use, this is what I live with every day… seeing a world that should be heaven turned more hellish with each rise and fall of the sun:
Hell is where billions starve and your fridge is full.
Hell is where your clothes are made by traumatized workers on slave wages in sweatshops and you buy them in a fragranced mall.
Hell is where His animals are kept in dark cages unable to move so that maximum profit can be made.
Hell is where you must work in a job that sucks at your soul just to buy over-priced addictive food that leaves you lacking in energy, hypoglycaemic and irritable.
Hell is where the media pumps you full of fear and the advertisers use it to direct you into consuming products that destroy the ecology planet we all depend on via pollution and habitat destruction.
Hell is where children kill themselves because they are told the world is dying without telling them that there is an easy solution to all of it.
Hell is where women hate men, men hate women, one religion hates another, left and right mutually hate, races hate one another, where we squabble over if climate change is real or not while pristine habitats are destroyed and genetic diversity lost forever.
Hell is where we so want to be "right" that we “debate” instead of “discuss and learn,” where we refuse to see how we are all sacred under God.
Hell is where making maximum "profits" are sanity and saving the life a stranger in another country is "crazy."
Hell is where the love of power reigns and the Power of Love is sneered at.
Hell is where sociopaths and psychopaths rise to power and the salt of the earth desperately feel guilty for not having enough money to give to charity.
Hell is where love is abused to send good people into war.
Hell is where good people are fooled into making parts of weapons, never being told what the project is for.
Hell is where you spend so much time chasing money you swallow whatever the media tells you, you think what they tell you to think.
Hell is where billions of people haven't enough to eat but we could solve it for less than a fraction we spend on war.
Let me take you out of here, come visit me when you can, just you. If you’re ready now, simply turn the page. I can’t wait to meet you!