Memoir of a Teacher: Chapter 8, Robin Interrupted


This chapter from my Memoir of Appropriation I do with special love as Girl Interrupted was a running joke between a dear friend I met whilst in the psychiatric hospital, I refer to her as Cat in my real memoir. Cat, I’ve got a chicken carcass with your name on it… with a side of potatoes,  broccoli and carrots.


People ask, How did you get in there? What they really want to know is if they are likely to end up in there as well. I can’t answer the real question. All I can tell them is… “Oh you know me, I do so like my dramatics.”

And it is easy to retreat into the blanket fort in your head. There are so many methods of avoidance: the smile and nod, the talking really fast so others cannot get in, the hide in your room, the good old sit and rock; the strategies of the insane, the criminal, the crippled, the dying, perhaps of the dead as well. These are methods of coping with the real world whilst we can’t see it clearly.

My ex workmate Hotlips came in swiftly and totally, during my two years teaching with her. She was at a staff dinner, downing gin like it was going out of style, when a tidal wave of blackness broke over her head. The entire world was nothing but distorted noise – for a few minutes. She knew she had gone completely mad. She looked around the restaurant to see if it had happened to everyone, but all the other people were engrossed in their own drug of choice. For me it was also gin, for another heart attack causing food by the truck load and for another shameless self promotion. She rushed out, because the darkness within her was too much when combined with grog.

And then what happened? I asked her.

A lot of shaking and vomiting, she said.

But most people breakdown gradually, with a series of events that gradually erode away their soul and drive them into self loathing. In this state all normal interactions become a battle ground of paranoia and double talk. Nothing is real yet nothing is imagined. It’s all relative.

These are facts you find out later, though.

Another odd feature of the mad mind is that although it is virtually unfathomable by the “well adjusted” mind you can easily see the normal world going on around you. Sometimes the life you came from looks huge and menacing, quivering like a vast pile of jelly; at other times it is miniaturized and alluring, aspin and shining in its orbit. Either way, it can’t be discounted.

Every window on Alcatraz has a view of San Francisco.

“You look tired,” said the doctor.

No shit, I’ve got newborn twins and a two year old, all who have been sick and I’m just out of hospital with fucking Pancreatitis.

“You can’t keep yourself from shaking,” he went on.

When I’d woken that morning – I’d thought I could do it, get through one more day, taking care of the kids on my own whilst being so desperately ill. But then the shaking started and the boys bronchiolitis got worse and the tears would not stop. I felt broken.

“You expect a lot from yourself,” the doctor said.

I nodded. But the main problem was that everyone else expected a lot from me. They expected me to take care of a two year old and 8 weeks premature twins without so much as four hours of babysitting or help of any kind so that I could actually sleep. He was going to keep talking about it until I agreed with him, so I nodded.

“Does your husband know how you feel?” he asked.

I nodded to this too. He didn’t,  still doesn’t.

‘Trouble with the husband?” It wasn’t a question, actually he was already nodding for me. “Expecting too much from yourself,” he repeated. He popped out from behind his desk and lunged toward me. He was a taut fat man, tight-bellied and dark.

“You need a rest,” he announced.


Read the real excerpt here and then, for the love of sanity, buy the book and the movie! Yes both!!

As always if you’re a lady and a bit crae crae you are welcome to join my group

2 responses »

  1. It is safe to say that I have a lady crush on the wonderful Robin, not the sexy bits kind, just the I’m in awe of the awesomeness that is her mind. Her shared penchant for all things pretty shoes doesn’t hurt either. If you haven’t read Robin’s other written work, then go forth and do so, NOW!

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