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No. 8, no dates [September 15-28], 1967, p. 8
Melinda: The Thorazine Article


This is a story of the thorazine time of my life....
I wanted to tell it mainly to tell about the drug, thorazine, and what it does to you, but everybody has their own thorazine and one way or another you come to that time when you must be completely separated from yourself in order to live to find yourself and it comes in the nature of whatever your life is and with as much intensity as is needed to do what must be done to make you move and feel. It can be so harsh and earthly, or soft and spiritual, and the level is completely in accordance with you.... you never really leave yourself – everything that happens to you is very much in tune with your life and its purpose.
So to begin.....
Years ago when I was 17 and in my first year of college I drifted very naturally into a routine of benzedrine by night – miltown by day, and the only feelings that I had were the fire of going up and the softness of coming down.... the phoenix and the swan. Later on I expanded into more complicated experiences and more complicated drugs but it was the expansion of a child at play ... trying to make up new games and underneath that, much more seriously and much more out of my control, trying to set off an explosion that would carry me to a place that only existed in my imagination... where I would be really alive.
I remember very little of those times, they came to a turning point without my even realizing it or having any idea what it was for or what it would be.
I gradually lost seeing and hearing, and people around me had animal faces and carried on endless hostile conversations about me... my world was swimming in grey. I couldn't take care of myself and finally went into a hospital since there was nowhere else left to go. The last thing I remember was standing looking down through the barred windows and feeling that I was safe at last from the world and resolving that I would never set foot outside locked doors again.
I was started immediately on a prescription of thorazine and I quickly slipped into a haze. It washed over my mind and erased most of what was recorded there... gently eased out people and places and then time. I lost the connections that I had made in the years that I had been away from home and then my childhood slowly disappeared. In my present, one day disassociated itself from another and hours and minutes became separated until each moment was an entity. This meant that I could do or say anything, and was subject to continuous reversal of feeling and conception. Everything got completely distorted and even the distortion itself was constantly changing.... I got lost and retreated as far back as possible, leaving the world to deal with my vacant body.
Physical disorientation came along with mental chaos, like everybody else on the ward who was taking the drug, I walked into walls, and could not read or see very well... it was painful to focus my eyes for more than a few minutes at a time. My energy was completely dissipated and I spent most of my time in bed or under it... hiding, dodging the staff who insisted on much more than I was willing or able to give. When I was forced to make some kind of presentation of myself I would somehow switch on a kind of robot control that would make my body move, and go do the thing... and somehow I managed to exist like that for the next few months, separated from reality and drowning in the waves of thorazine that washed over me in regular intervals... it was a nausea that went back to my soul. The process of slowing down mind and body in order to do something with them is a fantastic one, it is the moments on the surgery table spaced out into months or years, and as in surgery, the period of recovery is much longer and more painful than the actual moments on the operating table, and there are always the same inherent dangers, a person who survives the operation does not necessarily survive the recovery.
In the deepest part of that time, things began to happen, and being totally wiped out by the drug, I was open to them, and that was the good of thorazine.... I had never been open before.
Chain reactions always occurred in the hospital, if someone tried to commit suicide, or caught a disease, or tried to escape, they were soon followed by others with whom they seemingly had no connection; the place was completely subject to vibrations which were much stronger than in the outside world where there are other ways of communicating. This time, people started burning themselves, and I found myself inside the wave, caught by the fire that seemed to go from person to person on little wings, and it was the first connection that I could make to anything outside myself, larger than myself, and the first time that I had been able to make contact with my body at all. I felt no physical pain, but I felt a strong force and that was the first feeling and the first connection, and it was the beginning. It was a way out of the thorazine and a way out of my prison. This kind of process is a repitition of the evolution of man that each individual must go through, starting by being a rock, then a plant, and becoming an animal and then a man, searching for God.
In those first moments of involvement I changed from a rock to a thing with the beginnings of life, like a primitive plant, and in the next two years I slowly climbed higher and higher, trying to become a person. It was absolutely agonizing. I stayed very much under the influence of thorazine all that time... long long after I had stopped taking it and been released from the hospital. I remembered very little of my life before the hospital and almost nothing of what had happened in the hospital. I was also subject to lapses of memory about my immediate past and often forgot what I was thinking or doing. I could not tie things together. I had no abstract mind, and I had to try to keep all my little pieces running without any help from each other.
I also had the scars on my body that constantly reminded me of my separation and made it hard to recognize myself, and every once in a while I would acquire a few more. But I realized that somehow, beyond my knowledge, my salvation lay in these extremes, and somehow that kept me open to let things come in and touch me, and I could realize when I sat and looked at my hands that the extreme good could be found there as well as the ugliness of the separation.
And of course the same duality is in the nature of the drug, thorazine. It can open the way to feeling, but many empty shells of people are also left to slip away from life and feeling, finding a haven from pain in the silence of the drug and make an unconscious decision to stay there. It takes more than individual strength to overcome months or years of thorazine treatment and return to the world that has color and form, sight and sound. If a person does not recognize something outside of himself and grow towards it, there is really no way that he can ever come all the way back. Thorazine is an enforcer and you must accept the silence or fight for your life.

Melinda