Psychosis: Tales of Horror


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Rorschach Test

If you were a teenager of the s, for instance, atomic power was probably weighing pretty heavily on your mind — hence all of the big bugs the horrifying result of atomic radiation! The answer seemed deeper and more personal than that. Janisse has been a film programmer since , first for the Cinemuerte International Horror Film Festival in Vancouver which she founded , and then later for the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, as well as their festival spin-off Fantastic Fest in Austin, Texas. Janisse is one of those people who went to her local video store and began working her way through the horror section, alphabetically, watching as many as five movies a day.

Janisse interweaves her familial narrative with synopses and critical reviews of films that reflect various moments in her life. After the events that led to her divorce, and bolstered by the [rape] at Columbia Court which my father Oates — a psychologist — refused to believe ever occurred , my mother remarried, and this new relationship would bring its own challenges in the form of an ill-tempered stepfather whose behavior would be tolerated because my mother felt to do otherwise made her a failure. If the majority of horror scholars before now have viewed the genre through a macro-lens, Janisse is adopting a micro-perspective, avoiding broad sociopolitical readings of the films in favor of deeply psychological ones.

Janisse is a razor-sharp observer of human behavior, and her insights are frighteningly candid and frequently funny. As a child any deliberate self-injury was limited to scab-picking and other means of interfering with the natural healing process of wounds not so abnormal , but adolescence brought the typical self-injurious behavior — cutting, bruising and consistently giving myself bad haircuts. I still maintain that the latter was the most damaging. She is adopted as an infant and raised in a fractured home.

Eventually, her womanizing father leaves, and the alcoholic mother remarries a man with a violent temper who is nevertheless her most emotionally available relative.

After a short stint working at a porn shop, Janisse gets a job at a video store in Vancouver called Black Dog. She eventually goes back to school, founds a horror fanzine called Cannibal Culture , starts the Cinemuerte Film Festival basically by accident , and slowly gets her life back on track. The other two thirds are essentially critical reviews of horror and exploitation films. The appendix, which is roughly half the length of the entire book, is basically a list of all the films mentioned in the body of the memoir, as well as other related titles that informed its writing.

Each entry is followed by an in-depth plot summary, character analysis, and some kind of thematic untangling. Now, as I reflect on the gap between my expectations of bringing her into the world and the reality of it, I see a dark, vast cavern. I had expected to be the first person to hold her. In fact, due to the cocktail of drugs I had been given I spent most of my C-section trying to throw up.


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My husband was therefore the first to hold her, and clutched her in one arm and a sick bowl for me in the other. I also bled quite a lot, losing about a third of my blood volume. We returned to the maternity ward, where a nurse tried to get breastfeeding to work for us, but I was still shaking too much.

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Ever resourceful, she hand-milked me and collected the milk in a syringe to give to Beatrix. In those first few days I began to develop beliefs that I can now see as the first daggers of disease stabbing my mind. I thought all the nurses were talking about me, and had an ever-growing suspicion that my baby had been swapped. Over time, once back home with my baby, I felt increasingly anxious and had a burgeoning concern that ninja social workers were watching me and plotting to take my baby. I therefore hid my suspicious thoughts and fears from everyone.

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However, he knew from my behaviour that something was wrong and so at his behest six weeks after the birth I went to see a GP. The phrase set me off and I exited sharply from the meeting, convinced she was part of the baby-thieving conspiracy. Without the help I needed, over the following weeks my mind shattered into a thousand jagged pieces.


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I became manic. Five months after my baby was born things had reached the point where I was terrified of leaving the house for fear of murderous social workers. I had a new health visitor, who had picked up that something was amiss and had begun visiting every two weeks.

Psychosis: Tales of Horror

When she came round one day to find me speaking rapidly and unable to stop pacing, she put the wheels in motion to get me help urgently. My mind was like a fantastical game of pinball, the steel balls of my thoughts zig-zagging at a million miles an hour around my energised grey matter. I thought it seemed like overkill, but my mum and husband persuaded me it was a good idea. As we approached the MBU I heard a baby scream and I instantly ran down the bare brick-walled corridor in the opposite direction, convinced the unit existed to collect up bad mothers and swap their babies for robots.

My husband and a psychiatric nurse had to physically shepherd me on to the ward, coaxing me with promises that my baby girl and I could leave again soon. That was an optimistic assessment. Harry Potter. Harry Styles. Ooh, hair! It was exhilarating to think so quickly, faster than I had ever thought before, but there were too many thoughts for one mind to think.

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She was like a Peugeot to my Formula 1 car, a three-legged donkey to my thoroughbred, the Circle Line to my bullet train — how could she possibly keep up with me? And speed up I did, racing and pacing and chasing thoughts around the room. I paused only occasionally to line my belongings up in rows, in a vain attempt to create some order in my spiralling world of ever-increasing entropy. It was a week before I could leave the room, my paranoid mind conjuring up a million ways harm would befall me in the wide-open savannah of the ward.

This was to change as the antipsychotic medication helped to heal my beleaguered brain, and over the weeks of my admission I came to see the MBU as a place of safety. It offered baby massage sessions, weaning classes and splash play activities, all of which enabled me to be the mother I wanted to be.

As it was a six-bed unit, there was also the opportunity to meet other mothers who were going through the same thing and discuss the impacts of our various treatments as well as the trials and tribulations of motherhood. In short, it was a place that helped me to re-grow the confidence that my disease had decimated, making me feel positive about our ability to thrive together at home. The nurses, the doctors, the nursery nurses, the cleaners, the psychologist — they were united in their effort to care for me and they formed a net that caught me when I was falling fast.

Some went above and beyond the remit of their jobs and became valued friends. This lack of evidence probably does little to encourage the people in charge of the purse strings to fund MBUs. Hannah Bissett is well placed to compare and contrast the experience of an MBU with that of a general adult psychiatric ward.

In September she gave birth to her first baby, by emergency C-section, and just two weeks later she found herself admitted to an adult psychiatric ward with postpartum psychosis. In a story I can empathise with, Hannah recalls insomnia and a constant need to pace. Hannah was sectioned and spent a total of three and a half months in hospitals in the north of England, initially on two general adult psychiatric wards and then in a small MBU.

Her memories of the early weeks of her admission are hazy. She acknowledges that the wards kept her safe. Sally gave birth to her first baby, Ella, by emergency C-section in March Doctors initially looked for a physical cause, conducting a CT head scan and blood tests. I saw the midwives taking Ella off to be resuscitated — even though this never happened in real life.

She had a home treatment team who visited her house every day for a month, then weekly, then monthly until a year after Ella was born. I think all that could have been helped quite a lot, really. Both Hannah and Sally tell me their partners were essential to their recovery. I can only concur. I would squeeze him hard, making the muscles in my arms ache, as if holding on tight enough could stop my manic need to pace and cease my swirling maelstrom of thoughts.

Like most women with postpartum psychosis, I was offered medication to treat it. There are several options, and it can be a bit of trial and error to find the right drug. This may include antipsychotic drugs, anti-anxiety medications, mood stabilisers and antidepressants. In my case an antipsychotic called olanzapine was key to my recovery, and luckily it was the first I tried. Her husband, being an academic, scoured the literature to find an evidence-based alternative.

What he found was a game-changer for Sally: electroconvulsive therapy ECT.

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ECT was first developed in , and involves passing an electric current through the brain to induce a seizure. Jan 26, Sarah Nunley rated it it was amazing. Great read Great short read. This keeps you thinking and you really engage as a reader. I was glad to read these terrifying tales.

Jan 15, Elisse Sharpe rated it really liked it. Almost every story was fantastic.

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