Un(der)known Writers: Elaine Kraf

I am glad I have the radiance. This time I am wiser. No one will know. Perhaps it is a virus—a virus causing my being to expand and glow instead of causing nausea and weakness. It is not what they think it is. Usually they treat this lovely feeling with drugs. Weren’t they surprised when the lithium salts didn’t work. All of them so sure they could call it manic-depression and level it with those salts. I fooled them. Finally it was cured in the usual way. In fact any feeling can be cured if you want to get rid of it by shooting up large amounts of Thorazine, Stelazine and more recent derivatives into the buttocks or ass or bottom or gluteus maximus.

What a fool I was to go there all by myself of my own free will last time and live in the green painted room until they made certain that the radiance was gone. When I have this condition it is hard for me to follow directions, difficult to keep schedules, to play follow the leader. When they cure it with the drugs that make my limbs heavy and my mind stupefied, I cannot laugh suddenly or cry or even dance. It is like something is binding me. But I can follow orders very well. I can do whatever I am told. Then they say, she is over the acute stage. I am praised and the dosage is lowered. Finally I am released. I come out into the world with correct patterns of speech, and for a while I see a psychiatrist and take my maintenance dosage and look for a job in the newspaper. It is a pretense. The realization of who I am comes back to me. Not the radiance. You see, the two don’t always go together. I am the Princess of 72nd Street. This is a fact. Something I know deep inside but only mentioned during my first and second radiance. They want me to believe that a radiance follows some terrible rejection or loss of self-esteem and is some kind of defensive device creating chemical changes and loss of boundaries. They are wrong. I have gotten the radiance when I have been depressed about something and also when things were going along in their normal way. The truth that they refuse to admit is that there is no pattern. None.

From Elaine Kraf’s The Princess of 72nd Street