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William Blake’s Nebuchadnezzar 1795

A walk through my mental health journey & the Art that speaks

By Natasha CollazoPublished 3 months ago Updated about a month ago 14 min read
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Illustration of King Nebuchadnezzar

This is one of those writings that sat in my drafts bin since November. At the time, it was the upcoming week to Thanksgiving. I noticed many were expressing gratitude for challenges. I have a chest full, that every time someone says “write down what you’re thankful for” I could not do so without writing a book. So I wrote my story of sickness I encountered in 2022 that lead to severe depression, which lead to residual trauma, and the restoration of it all. I got overwhelmed writing out every detail that I couldn’t bring myself to publish this piece, until January, 2024.

Now, I believe I’m ready to dive back into time, and pull out all of the diamonds in the rough. Though, the topic is entered under Art, it’s sort of a crossbreed between that and brief memoir as they mirror each other and tell a similar story. We will get to the art portion of the story later on. This is a mild lengthy read for Vocal but I can not tell only part of this story and have you wonder how it could mirror the chilling art illustration above, haha.

So, 14 minute read here we go, and you probably already shaved off one minute.

I entered a fiction challenge awhile ago where I wrote “Brain on fire” which was a thriller, inspired by the events that I am about to share with you below. Though, what I experienced is also known as a ‘brain on fire’ experience, this is not the same as the story I wrote, as some of the thriller content created was for my story and completely fiction. So, for disclosure…

**My story Brain on Fire is not a true story**

2022

The ER /Hospital is like my version of Hell. It’s supposed to be this place of safety but for me it’s a trigger. No matter the cause. They pump all kinds of stuff in your IV that sometimes make you feel better and other times make you feel anxious or wanna vomit. The energy feels like a bad dream. Everyone’s walking around as if atrocious things are not happening. Seizure, stroke and septic alerts going off in the intercom.

I remember putting my AirPods in and blasted my fav music and closed my eyes to somehow transport me to another place and stop the panic, but the anxiety drowned out the music and it was no use. I turned the AirPods off and started counting.

The only time I remember feeling a bit of true genuine serene wellness, was when my friend at the time sent me a video of himself on the ‘Price is Right’ from like the early 2000’s, and it was so hilarious and cringey that it did stop the time for a second.

That was something to look forward to, the thought of someone waiting for you on the other side of the walls.

It was that moment I realized, we’re probably never gonna date, but there’s a deep need for whatever he’s offering, because if someone held the power to be able to turn my anxiety off, to give me a brief feeling of warmth, like a blanket, or that someone liked me enough inspite of it, I knew I had to keep him around, for medicinal purpose at least, if not anything more serious. He worked.

I walked out of the ER that night a lot calmer than I went in. This was my first ER visit. Low and behold, did we know what was coming. I say we, because he stayed for the rest.

2023

I’m currently cuddled up a year and some change later on my own cozy couch, bundled up with a novel in my hand. My industrial floor lamp curved over, hovering just enough light to see my pages. Now this. This is my version of Heaven. Not being a couch potato, but being okay. Safe. But most of all grateful. I’m flooded with a feeling that feels like I owe someone, somewhere, something. And I have this free card of not owing a thing. I’m in awe of this present moment. My health is good right now and somehow the humanity in me and I guess trauma, doesn’t know how to accept it. Being well. Not being sick. The unfortunate events of my most tragic year has come to an end, but its memory keeps me from living sometimes.

Trauma

After my series of unexplained illness, 7 trips to the ER in one month, 60 day migraines, that resulted in a referral to a Neurologist and expensive EEG tests were done, (which I still never received those results, out of fear) I figured, if it was bad, they’d call ME not the other way around. Severe chronic nausea that caused me to not eat and my bowels only releasing water, and three months out of work, to my final attempt at the ER. This visit was by far the worst, but my last. I have not stepped foot into an emergency room since, (knock on wood).

I walked in that miserable day of June 2022, and I told the front desk “I’m dying,” with full tears in my eyes. They looked at me waiting for me to elaborate. I said,

“I think I’m dying, I stopped eating a few months ago and now my body is in starvation mode. I feel nothing but nausea in my stomach and it’s 24-7, it doesn’t skip a beat, it doesn’t give me a break, I sleep and when I wake I’m in full blown panic episodes that have me hugging my knees because it greets me when I wake. I can not live like this another day and I need someone to check my stomach NOW!”

With my demand, she said okay and asked me to follow her. They took me immediately for a CT scan of my stomach after yet again pumping me with zofran and electrolytes and wheeled me off. As the nurse was wheeling me, I began to feel so dizzy he handed me a barf bag. I did not barf. But I felt like everything was anxiously heightened and if I stood up I’d pass out. They got me to walk to the CT scan and they filled my veins with that awful metallic tasting contrast and heat running through my body. I’m yet again all by myself, and in that moment I realized I had to be strong for myself, because I was terrified.

I really just needed someone to touch me, or lie to me, something.

After the scan they wheeled me back to a waiting room as I watched the Doctor in the white lab coat who was walking around the ER halls handling case by case because if we’re being honest, they’re always understaffed. I could tell he was the one running the show. Everyone was waiting on this guy.

I’ll never forget him, he was an African American male, maybe even Indian, and though I couldn’t see his face because it was covered with a mask, I’m sure if I saw him again, I could point him out.

I watched him whisper to other nurses and glance at me. At first, I was like whatever, but then he did it again, and again. I swallowed wondering what they had found. Finally, he walked over to me, pulled down his mask, bent over and said “you said you stopped eating, how long now?”

I responded, “a few months, only small pepperonis and soup, to now nothing. I can’t eat anything” then he gently tapped me and motioned to follow him to the room. We entered a room and a woman nurse followed who looked more frightened then I had seen these professionals ever look. Im used to their non-phased unbothered personas. He asked me to have a seat and he sat with me. He didn’t say anything and handed me his clipboard, the drama was enough to send us all over. I already knew I was dying, so I actually wasn’t terrified to finally see it on paper, which stated “malignant mass” followed by three sheets of jibber-ish and numbers. I looked up and said “Cancer?”

He nodded yes, but didn’t say it.

He did say, “I’m extremely worried for you and you need to see a specialist asap, you can’t wait another day. You have a mass that is over the size to be benign. Once a cervical mass reaches a certain growth, it’s automatically malignant and by the size of this one, it’s taking up your entire cervix, this would likely, be a stage four mass but we can’t exactly be sure until your biopsy and ultrasound.”

I’m thinking, you just said it. The paper said it, and Ms.Nurse Puppy Eyes said it.

“Ok. Can I go?”

I think I checked out at this moment. But to put into words what I felt, unapologetically, there was some heavy relief. There was also pity, an excitement-even…but ultimately it came down to horror if I actually pondered on the reality of what just took place here.

I drove. I had to drive! I had to feel alive. So I drove to my brothers and handed my sister-in-law the papers, and after she prayed with me on the floor boy, did I see a woman fight for another woman.

The story checks out that I obviously did not die, nor was dying. Turned out the scan casted large shadows circling my entire cervix. I was simply misdiagnosed and cancer free. This, was miraculous.

PTSD

I cry from the slightest sensation of fear, that sends me back to freeze mode.

Anytime I get an upset stomach I think I’m going back there.

Anytime I have a headache, I have to create a conversation in my mind that it’s going to pass.

I had no idea what PTSD was. I thought it was something serious that war veterans experience from chemicals of trauma being activated in their brains.

But it’s that, more or less. It’s the result to the after math of a traumatic experience.

Which left the question to the triggers and PTSD episodes, what was wrong with me? I wish I could say we rejoiced and it was over, but after the great news and a team of people praising over me, I couldn’t even praise properly. The chemicals in my brain were still way out of balance from the stress, and all the panic attacks left so much residual damage, I couldn’t shake this depression. I ended up in a season of heavy therapy, seeing my therapist three times a week.

I did get on medication, all to see color again.

THE ART & MENTAL HEALTH

I knew God was healing me, but I couldn’t see it. My anxiety wouldn’t allow me to believe or feel it. To feel so much as the stroke of my cat. No fluffy feelings in my chest, that I usually get when I pet him. I didn’t care about Charlie. I didn’t care about TV, or books, or clothing, or house decor, or social media. Things that I laid around my house for dopamine boosts, left me feeling nothing. I’d watch comedies and still couldn’t laugh. I couldn’t go into public places or drive my car.

I could write a book on just the spiritual journey side of this alone. Especially as a woman of faith, there was so much intimacy developed. In the biblical faith, If you’ve read the book of Job, you get a glimpse of what people today compare what losing everything feels like and still trust God.

But, I don’t exactly compare my story with Job, I resonate more with Nebuchadnezzar, who lost his mind, and was easily shown what it’s like to not be in control of anything. The lowest form of living. Death would be a generous.

Nebuchadnezzar Tate Impression, UK

“Let his heart be changed from man's, and let a beast's heart be given unto him; and let seven times pass over him.”

“The same hour was the thing fulfilled upon Nebuchadnezzar: and he was driven from men, and did eat grass as oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till his hairs were grown like eagles' feathers, and his nails like birds' claws.”

“Nebuchadnezzar, Old Testament Babylonian king is a monotype print created by the English poet, painter, and printmaker William Blake. Taken from the Book of Daniel, the legend of Nebuchadnezzar tells of a ruler who through hubris, lost his mind and was reduced to animalistic madness and eating "grass as oxen"

Minnesota Institute of Art

Williams work is unique in such a way that he was both a painter and printmaker and combined the two in his craft, incorporating ink and water color to his impressions, where only three of these “Nebuchadnezzar prints” were created and are currently at the Tate Britain in London, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and the Minneapolis Institute of Art. As for the fourth print, it has been missing since 1887.

But what I love about this artist, is how he portrayed the man-creature so well. When I read the story, I have my own imaginations of the horror. A high and mighty king humbled to his knees by the trying of his mind.

As the story ends, Nebuchadnezzar’s mind is restored and his heart is forever changed. Again, I identify with this sober connection.

As the anxiety and depression medication took a few weeks to settle in, I started to feel again.

Restoration slowly began and boy, did all the promises I once believed start flowing back into my head. Headaches were gone. Nausea didn’t stop until much later but it got better with each day. I was healing. And everything, to my first small bite, to the start of my ignition, to the first time I waltzed back into my church, or to returning to work, I counted every small thing a victory.

The people

There were a handful of people who played a part in restoring me back to health, clearly God, for even allowing a second chance at life.

As for that boy, that was with me through out this experience, making his often appearances, stocking my fridge, taking me for drives, feeding me solids, he experienced most of these victories with me. He did become my boyfriend, and we did break up.

There were so many behind-the-seen events, like the night a group of ladies laid hands and prayed over me. Or met with me for neighborhood strolls, and brought me soup, but most importantly listened to me cry.

Every person is part of my narrative, and their own narratives. They are like characters in a story, moments in scenes, that are purposed to act out all of our divine plans, for not just me, but for their stories too.

I can’t do anything but accept this.

Although, returning to life was a miracle, I had a lot of moments where I’d stop feeling for about a few minutes, and would shut down. Id cry in the bathroom at work. I’d have moments at home, in public places, but I’d always get better because I now had enough tools to try. And the energy! The nausea stopped once I stayed with a lady and dear friend in my church, a second mother to me, and as I started the anti-depressants, I developed an appetite. I’ll never forget the first cup of coffee we shared together and yes, we went to Starbucks.

I told myself I could never let myself go back there, because I will die, ( not Starbucks but this mental state).

But my therapist always reassured me, “you won’t die”. Even in your worst moment, it will pass, and it’s a hell of a season, but seasons change. And you are changing.

Soooo what was it you ask? One day I was fine living a normal life and the next having a headache that left me bedridden for 60 days. Some say the nausea could have been a PTSD symptom to trauma of being bedridden. But turns out it was the result to toxic mold poisoning. After my last attempt at seeing an MD who ran labs on my cellular activity, he found I had the gene (CIRS) that recycles mold toxins in your liver. I tested positive for this autoimmunity, and sure enough the symptoms were known as ‘unexplainable sicknesses’ or also known as a brain on fire, and one symptom being the effects on mental health causing the host to become anxious and depressed restricting the brains ability to produce serotonin. I could write a whole separate article on CIRS-Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome, but you’ve read enough, so I’ll let you google it. The mold was found in my AC pipes behind the walls, it was never visible, just in the airflow. I did move out about a month or two later and life has returned gracing me with much more than I had.

Thank you for reading.

*

*

Thank you to everyone, who poured into my healing journey. Too many, but to name a few, Angelica, Sara, Allen, Dr. Ann Marie, Lauren, Hasina, and Dylan.

ProcessInspirationIllustrationHistoryFine Art
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About the Creator

Natasha Collazo

Werewolf Writer

I get inspired at the mid of night

Stock market by day, howler by night.

✍🏽

Inquiries: [email protected]

Instagram: @sunnycollazo

Do all things in love

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Comments (3)

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  • Dharrsheena Raja Segarran3 months ago

    I remember you mentioned in your pieces before this that you were very sick and hospitalised but I didn't know it was this bad! I'm so sorry for everything that you went through 🥺 I'm just so glad it was cancer like they initially said it was. I've never heard of CIRS before. When you said you had toxic mould poisoning, I thought it would have been through food. I didn't know it could be airborne. So scary! I'm so glad you're okay now. Sending you lots of love and hugs ❤️

  • Thank you for sharing your story with us, Natasha. The pain, terror, anxiety, depression, relief over the diagnosis followed by the relief when it turned out to be wrong, the people who walked with you through your wilderness journey, those who left, those who stayed, & the fact that you are able to share it with hope, grace & thanksgiving. Susannah Wesley said of her son John (the third of hers by that name) after he had been rescued from an upper floor of the parsonage which was their home as it burned, "A brand plucked from the burning." The burning from which you have been delivered may be different but it has certainly been no less harrowing (& lasted quite a bit longer). I can already tell the Spirit of God moves powerfully within you. You are already a blessing to so many. I believe you will do even more.

  • Wow! Powerful story of how something so simple can impact us in such dramatic ways that we would never realize! I'm glad that you've discovered so much on this journey of yours! May you continue to find your way!

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