I came across this blog written by an unnamed writer now in his sixties who, from what I have read so far, reminds me very much of Harry Haller, the protagonist of Steppenwolf. In his introductory post he writes about the process of renewal. Below is just an extract from a blog post. You can find out more at Sky Blue Cure.
From Death to Life: A Story of Personality Reconstruction
Is it still I, who there past all recognition burn?
Memories I do not seize and bring inside.
O life! O living! O to be outside!
And I in flames. And no one here who knows me.
Rainer Maria Rilke
This story has been written primarily for a few close friends although all readers are welcome.
Given the nature of the stigma associated with emotional illness, the pharmaceutical bias of the medical establishment and the vast misunderstanding of emotional functions in popular culture it is unlikely that this message would be accepted or even be of interest to most people.
At least the record is made, for my satisfaction , that someone like myself did exist and did transform in an age where this process is relatively unsought and unknown.
I was sick and then I was cured. I was emotionally ill until I was thirty. I was made ill by the psychological abuses of both my family and the larger social world. At the age of thirty my personality changed, I was totally reconstructed. I changed it with help and guidance. The difference in my two lives, my two personalities, before and after, is virtually the difference of life and death. Prior to my change, I was barely emotionally alive yet I did experience states of extreme fear, depression and anxiety. I was able to think and function to some extent but mostly lived either in a state of deadness or extreme emotional agitation. I could not emotionally react in a natural way and so had to avoid most situations that caused emotion. I could not direct my actions or my life to any cause or interaction with others. I could not progress or grow in almost any way. My current personality is as fully emotionally alive with a full emotional range and I have no social fears or anxieties.
Previously, I was emotionally repressed. I was as if dead, yet I suffered greatly as if in an unending nightmare which I could not understand. My conception of myself now is that I somehow died or was murdered as a small child and lived on drifting as a frightened ghost, a dead person yet alive and dreaming a nightmare, a somnambulist, a recording machine that recorded events but could not participate in them. From emotional repression I deteriorated over the years into a fractured personality. I have no sense of “break” from my two personalities, I have always felt a continual flow of self, yet my current self is my full self and I regard my previous self as my dead self. I remember my past before age 30, It was “I” but then again it was “Not-I”. I live now with a strange dichotomy of memories and feelings about who I am. This also makes me a person who is able to draw on opposite types of behaviour to use at I will.
After I changed, over time I realized that I was not the same person. At first, I had thought I was simply “more” than I was previously but I came to realize that I was not only “more” but I was “different”. If I had met my previous personality, I wouldn’t have liked much about him and I don’t suppose he did like himself much either. That’s as it should be.
Our unnamed writer echos Hermann Hesse, who wrote “Not everyone is allotted the chance to become a personality; most remain types, and never experience the rigor of becoming an individual. But those who do so inevitably discover that these struggles bring them into conflict with the normal life of average people and the traditional values and bourgeois conventions that they uphold.”