(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.