Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

Songs, Poems and other Art for Caregivers

These sorts of threads are common on the Diagnosed section of the forum. @GSSP maintains a personal thread of his works and occasionally posts pop up on the How Are You Doing Today thread sharing creations.

I feel sometimes this forum suffers from a tyranny of words. And I’m more guilty than most. Although writing factored into my recovery, music making and acting played a bigger role, and with greater impact. But before I could make music, I listened to music. I searched for the perfect song that fit a particular thought or feeling and listened to it endlessly on repeat, or formed elaborate playlists. I’m in awe of poets and lyricists who can condense thoughts and feelings down to a handful of words, and composers who can convey complex feelings and moods without a word.

Later I learned to sing those songs. I’ve always been vaguely musically talented, but I’ve struggled with ways to share it. So this thread is my attempt. And if anything I’m a collaborator. I rarely post my own threads here, I mostly comment on other ones. I feel this is a forum for all caregivers not a personal blog, and my viewpoint is unique, so it’s more polite to chime in where I can, rather than lead with an agenda.

That’s my wordy way of saying: feel free to post songs, poems, artwork or anything else that you feel a caregiver might want or need to read, see, feel or hear. Or maybe talk about books or movies you felt were helpful, got you through the day, or expressed how you think or feel. Original artwork or crafts are welcome too.

Here’s a song I’ve listened to repeatedly lately. It expresses how I feel about this forum.

Break Your Heart

From the album Ophelia

People downcast, in despair, see the disillusion everywhere. Hoping their bad luck will change gets a little harder every day. People struggle, people fight for the simple pleasures in their lives but trouble comes from everywhere. It’s a little more than you can bear. I know that it will hurt, I know that it will break your heart the way things are and the way they’ve been, and the way they’ve always been.

People shallow, self-absorbed, see the push and shove for their reward. I, me, my is on their minds; you can read about it in their eyes. People ruthless, people cruel, the damage that some people do. Full of hatred, full of pride, it’s enough to make you lose your mind. I know that it will hurt. I know that it will break your heart, the way things are and the way they’ve been. But don’t spread the discontent; don’t spread the lies. Don’t make the same mistakes with your own life. You never will let love survive.

I know that it will hurt. I know that it will break your heart the way things are and the way they’ve been. Don’t spread the discontent; don’t spread the lies. Don’t make the same mistakes with your own life. Don’t disrespect yourself, don’t lose your pride and don’t think that everybody’s gonna choose your side.

Natalie Merchant / Indian Love Bride ©1998

https://www.nataliemerchant.com/lyrics/break-your-heart/

3 Likes

I’ve had a few people remark on my username in this and the diagnosed forum. I recently added a photo to my profile to see if anyone might pick up on the reference.

It’s the title of a slightly obscure song from an influential Funkadelic album of the same name. It’s a song that’s a right of passage for guitar masters and has been covered by greats in all genres, notably Carlos Santana, Pearl Jam, Flea (on bass), Buckethead, Ween and many more. It’s usually performed live without the introductory ‘lyrics’ by George Clinton. When you hear them, you’ll understand why.

The song is mostly a long guitar solo by Eddie Hazel who some think rivaled Jimi Hendricks as a prodigy and virtuoso on guitar. George Clinton was the producer. The story goes that they were both high on LSD in the studio and Clinton told him to play the guitar solo as if he had just been told his mother had died, but it turned out it wasn’t true. It was recorded in one take.

I’ve posted bits and pieces of my main psychotic break, and some of you may recall I believed my mother was dead during it, and when she spoke to me before I was hospitalized, I said I didn’t want to talk to a ghost. She was still alive of course, and still is— she recently had a birthday.

The guitar solo has been described as ‘mind melting’, and various other superlatives and it ranks in many top 100 guitar solo lists. There are even people who say their ‘musical life’ was forever changed by hearing the song, as my life was changed by my psychotic break. I intentionally misspell the title in my username for reasons of my own.

Well after this run up, I’m sure some of you may not be impressed by the song and it may not be your style. But maybe you’ll have a better understanding of me and the loss and pain of your loved ones after hearing it.

https://www.fender.com/articles/artists/one-track-mind-the-passion-of-eddie-hazel-and-funkadelics-maggot-brain

4 Likes

I have absolutely loved that you have been willing to share here so openly. About you. About your family, ALL of your ideas, thoughts, experiences… helping to give ME insight into a mind of my partner’s, that I cherish and want to see succeed… as it does.! Sometimes…
I like that you brought the ‘poor me’ thing out front. I even like the tunes!
I just know that we, as caregivers, spouses, partner’s, loved ones get tired, we get beaten, even sometimes broken and shattered… and we need and want to that know WE are known too…

3 Likes

Although The Wind

Although the wind
blows terribly here,
the moonlight also leaks
between the roof planks
of this ruined house.

    - Izumi Shikibu
4 Likes

If anyone is interested in water coloring or journaling. This is the place to go.
Its been so much fun and you don’t have to know how to do it , just pick a project and Sarah walks you through it.
( links below)

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCzzCo7lZGJ-sTCgpI7BJKEg.
https://www.letsmakeart.com/

6 Likes

I just finished a little lilac bunny.


7 Likes

I love the quote from a Rainier Maria Rilke poem at the end of JoJo Rabbit:

"Let everything happen to you

Beauty and terror

Just keep going

No feeling is final."

6 Likes
2 Likes
2 Likes

These are beautiful. Thanks for sharing @GSSP… where’s the kleenex?

1 Like

Were I teaching a delusions course to caregivers, for the first lesson I’d play the following song and discuss it with the class. Most everyone has heard it, either the Roberta Flack or the Fugees rendition.

Listen to it again and think about it from the singer’s perspective. Right away you should pick up on how the singer may experience delusions of reference. “Strumming my pain with his fingers, singing my life with his words…” The song is all about her and sung just for her.

And if you think a little more about it, hints of paranoia: “I felt he found my letters and read each one out loud.” And it doesn’t take much for ‘felt’ to become 'know’ if you’re paranoid, as I’m sure many of you know.

And how did this happen? Maybe “this young boy a stranger to my eyes”, broke into the singer’s house or is surveiling her-- a common delusional belief. Or maybe he’s psychic and reads minds, because the singer is Thought Broadcasting.

The young boy also sings these intimate things out loud and the singer becomes “embarrassed by the crowd”. And he keeps on singing, and it seems his song will never end, much like a delusional story. You can imagine that singer might not go back to this club to hear him sing ever again, or give up on going out of the house altogether.

The song itself seems like it might not ever end. It has a bit of a false ending and then restarts and continues. Written in a minor key, the song begins with its chorus which has an odd major chord resolution at the end that gives it the feeling that it needs to continue. The wordless bridge reminds me of when I begin to tune out and start to ignore my brother’s delusional stories, “la la la, la la la la la la la…”

The song was reworked by Roberta Flack and Quincy Jones after Helen Reddy left the demo on her turntable, because she didn’t like the title. Flack heard about the song reading an inflight magazine. It was said to have been written about a performance by Don McLean of Empty Chairs.

Here’s the original version by Lori Lieberman:

1 Like

Speaking of Don McLean. I had occasion to visit the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam and found it quite moving. Something about the totality of the work and the look of the blue eyes of the people in the paintings reflecting the look of the Dutch people around me moved me to tears.

There’ve been all sorts of speculations about his illness. I’ve heard it attributed to temporal lobe epilepsy, bipolar disorder and on and on. I don’t care much for this sort of thing, as it seems a form of star-fucking or legacy claiming and everyone’s illness is unique.

Don McLean wrote a song about experiencing his art, and a parallel to the suffering all artists go through. Side note: my mother, who is an artist, originally wanted to name me Vincent after Van Gogh, but was concerned Americans would call me Vinnie.

Having said my peace, I’ll do some “legacy claiming” of my own for caregivers and list some artists and writers with lesser known connections to caregiving. (My beef with legacy claiming is mostly forensic speculation about people who were never diagnosed.)

David Bowie had a brother with Schizophrenia.

The playwright Tennessee Williams had a sister Rose with Schizophrenia who was lobotomized. She is said to be an inspiration for the character Laura in The Glass Menagerie.

Scott Fitzgerald (of Great Gatsby fame) had a wife Zelda with Schizophrenia.

Brian Jones of The Beach Boys was eventually diagnosed with Schizoaffective Disorder. The movie Love And Mercy tells some of that story. I highly recommend that movie, some of the acting is excellent.

There are many others, known and unknown. One thing I’ll mention, as I was just called a ‘genius’ yesterday— which is a moniker I’m uncomfortable with. Brian Jones had a PR firm spread stories about him being a genius and when he became ill he had trouble living up to that legacy. It’s a bit of a trap and it tends to lessen the accomplishments of less gifted people living with mental illness. Use it with caution.

Much of how I relate to music and other media might be called “head cannon” which is a term for a personal spin or back story that’s not explicitly implied by a work of art. It’s similar to how people under your care might come up with delusions, they are internal stories that are spun to try and make sense of their external or internal world.

Often I’m looking for a particular song to express a feeling, but sometimes things don’t fit exactly, so I either ignore them or drop the idea completely.

The following song comes under the category of ignore inconsistencies completely. I latched onto it at a time when I trying to reconcile my unique experiences with recovery, and wanting them to remain private, when my first instinct was to capitalize on them and be a “star”. Those of you who follow my posts, may recall how star imagery manifested in my major psychotic break. While recovering from that break, I had the delusion that everyone knew my innermost thoughts and feelings and this was a cost of “stardom”. It was a hellish experience, and why as much as I’d like to help people by coming out with my story, I remain in shadow.

It’s also a reaction to the way society seems to blame sufferers and caregivers for SMI. I most certainly didn’t want this, and nor did you or would your loved ones if they could articulate this feeling. I suppose I should be grateful, and consider myself lucky, and I do at times, but mostly I feel guilty about my success and often dream of a less complicated life.

Hence, “I Never Wanted To Be A Star”:

2 Likes

In the same breath, this producer said sometimes I was ‘weird’ in my musical choices, which I think is fair— sometimes I do music only for myself, and my messages get obscured when I get too far into my own head.

I think all creative people struggle with this, and that’s why the producer gave me this pep-talk. And the intro to the following song reflects a similar sentiment. When I first started this thread, I wanted to post about this song, but didn’t want to turn this into a Natalie Merchant festival.

I’ve posted before about an experience in my mental hospital stay, where I saw patients being rude to staff after services and kindnesses were rendered— so I would thank them on their behalf. And I feel much the same way and more about many of the people under your care. I know all too well how they get into their own heads, and hurt and/or forget to thank their caregivers for the constant sacrifices and accommodations they make for their benefit, and I feel compelled to attempt to thank you all on their behalf for being kind and generous.

2 Likes