On Mental Health

Why, the phrase”I hear voices” is woefully inadequate in summing up the horrendous nature of mental illness (3)

 

(Continued from part 2..)

It’s like there is a web of fears, doubts and terrors shrouding your positive mind, and once something tips your train of thought over onto the lines of that “web,” it gets stuck and can’t find it’s way back onto a rational, positive level; it can’t find its way back to the safe-zone.

In fact it’s like reason itself, as a guiding and protecting force, has been wiped from your mind completely. Like being trapped, conscious, in a nightmare; you somehow know that it’s “not real” but the hairs on the back of your neck are still standing up, and that shadow in the corner of the room is still deepening.

Because once you’ve been tipped onto that web and are stuck in it, it’s like the fears and doubts just keep multiplying; every negative or scared thing you’ve ever thought in your entire life just gets regurgitated up and screamed at you with howling intensity.

“You think you’re completely worthless? We can confirm that you are. You think you’re utterly and entirely pathetic? We can confirm that you most definitely and categorically are..” and so on.

It really isn’t pleasant.

A persistent fear which always gives me another sharp kick when I’m down, is the sense that you are missing out on fully living your life because of the illness. Again, this kind of thinking isn’t helpful- but it’s really dam hard not to when the symptoms are that bad.

It feels like you’re trapped in some deep hole, some mind rut which only gets deeper the more that you struggle. You kinda sense the light, and you remember that it’s there, but you’re unable to break out of that rut fully, and therefore unable to relate to the world around you or connect meaningfully with other friends or loved ones.

And this is so utterly heartbreaking, because it is all you really want to do. Just leave these mind boggling and horrifying experiences behind and step out into the sunlight and feel the warmth on your face again.

You want to relax, fully, again.

You want to start getting some real meaning from the world; put some real meaning back into your own life again. God you crave that so much! But you fear that might never happen, and you’ll be stuck in this weird loop of horrendous experiences for the rest of your life.

That thought will bring on the tears for me; because it’s so close and so constrictive when the frustration is already prickling your chest and boiling away in your gut, as you appear to have lost yet another battle with some out-of-control, useless, portion of your own mind.

You’re own mind: you’re doing all of this to yourself! For some utterly unapparent and worthless reason, you are figuratively punching yourself in the head wearing the meanest knuckle duster you can imagine.

It’s mind-boggling, fist clenchingly frustrating- and utterly and completely futile.

The horrendous nature of it all is only compounded by the fact that you’re never entirely sure when these symptoms are going to come on, because they literally come out of the blue. The whole sequence of emotions and sensations usually comes on so quickly you don’t get much of a fighting chance to prepare or compose a noteworthy defence.

I struggle to relax, a lot of the time. I am always slightly tense; a part of me is always slightly alert, waiting for the slightest sign that something could jump into my head and start waving red flags and warning signs.

I know, however, that this really isn’t helpful. Learning to fully relax is one of the most effective defence systems which can be developed, and I am currently working on ways to get better at this.

I know, always, that the best way to avoid these experiences, when I get an inkling they might be about to come on, is to look in the other direction. To focus on something else, absolutely anything else which can draw your attention away and distract from that sinking feeling in your belly.

This is why, when recovering from this illness, it is so important to find positive, compelling pastimes and occupations to absorb your attention and engage your focus. This is the way to put your energies back into things which are meaningful and important to you, and thus gradually take the power back.

Because these symptoms feed on your fears, really..  or they are your fears, taken and churned up and spat out at you in way which as pointless as it is terrifying. All you have to remember that none of it is real, and none of it has any more strength than what you let it have in the moment.

The voices are the tip of the iceberg, as I previously said.

So- all of this- all of those ridiculously intense and chilling sensations and racing thoughts will accompany a single voice; a single voice saying “You’re useless, you’re pathetic; give up now and do the world a favour.”

Saying to someone, “I hear this voice.. and then it makes me feel terrible,” can never be enough to convey the real strength and malignancy of this disease, and the symptoms which work to sweep all sense of self control away.

It is a condition which invades the most personal aspects to you; your thoughts and your feelings; and does so in a way which is vicious, relentless and seemingly without restraint.

It is the most horrible thing to always have in your rear view mirror- and so the next time you hear of anybody who suffers with schizophrenia or other serious mental health conditions, spare them a care and a thought- because this disease is as severe and debilitating as it is invisible.

Just because someone looks as if they’re doing OK, does not necessarily mean that they are. If you’re talking and they look a little bit distracted, don’t just dismiss it as them having a funny moment; ask them how they are doing. They might be fighting this horror all the while that they’re attempting to have a conversation with you.

Fighting it is made even harder if you’re also having to worry about stigmas and other peoples misunderstanding.

So, in conclusion: the phrase “I hear voices” is woefully inadequate in summing up the horrendous nature of mental illness; and I have used these posts to illustrate why, hopefully drawing attention to why this disease can be so terrifying, and why it can be so debilitating.

It is not the voices in themselves which create the greatest problem, it is the sheer and breathtaking intensity of the sensations and delusions which invade your mind and body alongside of these voices.

I very much hope this has been an eye-opening and informative read, and will work to promote greater understanding, and sympathy for those of us who have to live with schizophrenia, and other severe mental health diagnoses.

Advertisements

8 thoughts on “Why, the phrase”I hear voices” is woefully inadequate in summing up the horrendous nature of mental illness (3)

  1. There are two aspects I want to tackle. The first relates to your saying, “You want to start getting some real meaning from the world; put some real meaning back into your own life again.”

    Get down to the council offices and get yourself an allotment garden. All the best mental institutions have gardens…

    Now, you say, So- all of this- all of those ridiculously intense and chilling sensations and racing thoughts will accompany a single voice; a single voice saying “You’re useless, you’re pathetic; give up now and do the world a favour.”

    I want to say something that is going to sound strange: you’re lucky to have this.

    Why?

    Because so many people do not. This is evinced by the fact that so few people would support you in your society – it didn’t help that you felt that you needed to withdraw from society. The point is that human society, shown at its best by the conversation where both listen and speak in balance, is the place where true healing occurs.

    Conversation is also one of the rarest things I meet.

    I know that schiz was terrible – beyond terrible – the mere fact that you are writing this means that you could overcome it. That occurred because you were able to listen; the challenge you faced was as powerful as the weapons in your mind that have measured it.

    Who else could have met these challenges? Because I’ll tell you this: there aren’t many who could.

    Like

      1. Thank you so much!.. I was worried I’d kinda waffled on for too long, and had maybe repeated myself a few times. Is the longest article i’ve ever written, so was a bit uncertain about it!

        Like

  2. “For some utterly unapparent and worthless reason, you are figuratively punching yourself in the head wearing the meanest knuckle duster you can imagine.” Isn’t it odd somehow that this is how we heal? Swallowing this exact horsepill is how. It is all me. It is really all me after all.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes indeed.. I’d never thought about it like that, but yes healing itself can be a furious process. We are all that powerful, we all contain that much force- I just think that when we develop these sorts of conditions we lose a part of our control over that force, for periods of time. Healing is the process of redeveloping that thread and that line of control, and making peace with all of that.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s